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The first hearing in the trial in which 13 people will been tried on charges of "Attempting to abolish constitutional order" and "Attempting to abolish government of the Republic of Turkey" started yesterday (August 16).
The journalists were detained on the same day they were released from the investigation into the media leg of the Fethullahist Terror Organization (FETÖ).
Abdullah Kılıç (Habertürk TV Editorial Director), Bünyamin Köseli (now-closed Zaman newspaper reporter), and Gökçe Fırat Çulhaoğlu (Türk Solu newspaper head columnist) made their statements after Cihan Acar's plea.
Kılıç: What matters is what a journalist writes, not where it is written
Kılıç briefly said in his defence:
"I condemned the coup"
"I condemned the July 15 [coup attempt] with consecutive harsh tweets. I didn't maintain a wait-and-see stance like many of my colleagues. I didn't delete my tweets, I stood against the coup plotters.
"I posted 40 tweets up until morning condemning the coup plotters. How can someone who posts tweets to inform the public be a coup plotter?"
"I've always made critical news"
"I didn't see the face of a single prosecutor when I was arrested. I was arrested by the Criminal Judgeship of peace before being taken to the prosecutor's office after being held in the police station for 14 days.
"The counsel for the prosecution presented my time writing at Meydan Newspaper for 11 months as an element of crime. I am a journalist of 23 years. I received awards three times from the TGC (Journalists' Association of Turkey). What matters is what a journalist writes, not where it is written.
"I have never made news that praised a person or an institution, I've always made critical news".
Köseli: Why wasn't the release verdict issued for me respected?
Köseli briefly said in his defence:
"I wanted to open an antique shop"
"I was left unemployed after a trustee was appointed to Zaman [newspaper]. I worked day and night from March to July 2016 to open an antique shop.
"On July 15, we went to see our accountant with my father for my company's procedures. So, according to them, I was informed that a coup would be staged on that day but I was bustling about to open an antique shop".
"I didn't attend even a single editorial meeting"
"I worked at Zaman as a reporter for five years. I wrote my reports and handed them in. I saw with the readers whether the report was published. I didn't attend even a single editorial meeting".
"I will go to the village of my family when I get out"
"Why wasn't the release verdict issued for me respected? Our friends from the Cumhuriyet [newspaper] were released and they met with their loved ones. But why haven't we been released? We were insulted on that day. When I get out, there is only one place where I will go, and that is the village of my family".
Çulhaoğlu: I wrote 91 articles against Gülen
Çulhaoğlu briefly said in his defense:
"They wrote the indictment without reading Zaman, Türk Solu. I would have written a better indictment if they had handed it to me. Türk Solu published 448 articles against Gülen, 91 of them were my columns. But you call someone who wrote 91 articles against Gülen 'the media organization of FETÖ".
On August 30, 2016, İstanbul Chief Public Prosecutor's office issued a detention order for 35 people, including several academics and journalists, as part of the investigation against FETÖ following the coup attempt on July 15. 27 of the 35 detainees were later arrested. The journalists and writers were arrested on different days, and they had been waiting eight months for the trial to begin.
The state-run Anadolu News Agency reported on the detention order for the journalists and writers with the headline "Operation against the media organization of FETÖ".
The suspects of the trial are employers, owners and writers of Millet daily, Cihan News Agency, Zaman daily, Meydan daily, Yeni Hayat daily, Bugün daily and the Rota News and Samanyolu News websites.
There are 29 suspects standing trial, 26 of whom were arrested. A warrant has been issued to forcibly take two suspects to testify.
Said Sefa faces 22,5 and the other 28 suspects face 15 years in prison each.
The names of those who stood trial are as follows:
Abdullah Kılıç, Ahmet Memiş, Ali Akkuş, Atilla Taş, Bayram Kaya, Bülent Ceyhan, Bünyemin Köseli, Cemal Azmi Kalyoncu, Cihan Acar, Cuma Ulus, Davut Aydın, Emre Soncan, Gökçe Fırat Çulhaoğlu, Habip Güler, Halil İbrahim Balta, Hanım Büşra Erdal, Hüseyin Aydın, Muhammet Sait Kuloğlu, Muhterem Tanık, Murat Aksoy, Mustafa Erkan Acar, Mutlu Çölgeçen, Oğuz Usluer, Said Sefa, Seyid Kılıç, Ufuk Şanlı, Ünal Tanık, Yakup Çetin, Yetkin Yıldız.
In the hearing held on March 31 under the Presidency of İbrahim Loğasdağı, the Istanbul 25th High Criminal Court, ordered that Abdullah Kılıç, Ahmet Memiş, Ali Akkuş, Atilla Taş, Bayram Kaya, Bünyemin Köseli, Cemal Azmi Kalyoncu, Cihan Acar, Cuma Ulus, Gökçe Fırat Çulhaoğlu, Habip Güler, Halil İbrahim Balta, Hanım Büşra Erdal, Hüseyin Aydın, Muhammet Sait Kuloğlu, Murat Aksoy, Mustafa Erkan Acar, Oğuz Usluer, Seyid Kılıç, Yakup Çetin, and Yetkin Yıldız be released.
On April 3, 2017 the board of judges of Istanbul 25th High Criminal Court ordered the release of the 21 defendants, and the prosecutor of the case was suspended by the Supreme Board of Judges and Prosecutors (HSYK)
İstanbul Chief Public Prosecutor's Office started a new investigation of Atilla Taş, Ali Akkuş, Hüseyin Aydın, Murat Aksoy, Mustafa Erkan Acar, Seyid Kılıç and Yetkin Yıldız on suspicisions of a link to the coup attempt on July 15.
As a part of this new investigation, a detention order was issued for seven people on charges of "attempting to suspend the constitutional order" and "attempting to overthrow the Government of the Republic of Turkey". The reason for the detention order has been declared to be "the evidence against the suspects, the nature of the crime and suspicion of an attempt to escape".
As a part of the same investigation, a detention order was also issued for Gökçe Fırat Çulhaoğlu, Yakup Çetin, Bünyamin Köseli, Cihan Acar, Abdullah Kılıç and Oğuz Usluer.
As a result, 12 of the 21 defendants who had been released, were arrested again as a part of the new investigation. Ali Akkuş was released on probation.
On April 4, İstanbul 25th Heavy Penal Court judges who ordered release in the trial of 21 journalists concerning had been relieved of duty.
On June 7, İstanbul Chief Public Prosecutor İrfan Fidan demanded two aggravated life sentences for the defendants on charges of "attempting to suspend the constitutional order" and "attempting to overthrow the Government of the Republic of Turkey". (EA/TK/LN)
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