The second hearing in the trial of the 11 rights defenders who were detained due to a training workshop on digital security held in Büyükada on July 5, 2017, was held today (November 22) before the İstanbul 35th Assize Court.
All the rights defenders who had been released pending trial, attended the hearing, except the two rights defenders Peter Steudtner (German citizen) and Ali Garawi (citizen of Sweeden), who were released on the first hearing as well and had left the country the next day, on October 26.
The hearing began with Taner Kılıç's statement of defence that he made via Audio and Visual Information System (SEGBİS). Following Kılıç, Nejat Taştan and Şeyhmus Özbekli made their statements of defence.
At 1 p.m. the hearing was recessed for one hour.
In the second session of the hearing after the break, the court heard IT expert Koray Peksayar who examined Taner Kılıç's phone.
Prosecutor Selahattin Kanbur demanded that Kılıç remain in detention pending trial.
Announcing its interim judgement, the court ruled that Kılıç's detention pending trial be extended.
The court also ordered, that the probation order be revoked for all the defendants of the case, and an anonymus witness be heard. A decision on the request of the attorneys, that the defendants be allowed to not attend the hearings during their trial, will be made, after the witnesses are heard.
The Next hearing will be on January 31, 2018.
Kılıç : Evidence against me confuted by reports
Amnesty International Turkey Chair Taner Kılıç had been taken into custody earlier on June 9, 2017 in another case held before İzmir 16 Assize Court in which he was standing trial on the charge of "financing terrorism and spying", before the other 10 rights advocates were detained during the workshop in Büyükada and were arrested later. Kılıç was included in the indictment of Büyükada lawsuit later as a suspect.
Although having argued, that he had been behind bars on the day of the workshop in Büyükada, his case was combined with the main Büyükada Case in which the other 10 rights defenders are standing trial and he is being charged with "being a member of an armed terrorist organization".
Stating that it was usual for NGOs to frequently organize meetings similar to the one they held in Büyükada, defendant Taner Kılıç, who is in detention pending trial, said that the fact that a meeting is not held public, does not mean that it could be considered illegal.
Kılıç added that he knew since April, 2017 that this meeting was being planned and noted that he did know any details besides the fact that rights defender İdil Eser, Amnesty International Turkey Office Director, would attend the meeting on behalf of Amnesty International, which they had been working for, and that the meeting concerned the security of rights defenders and methods to deal with stress.
Explaining that the claims that "Eser had to attend the hearing as she was in jail", was also not true, Kılıç criticized that news were being spread in the press that aimed at criminalizing the rights defenders and did not reflect the truth.
Kılıç also reminded that various documents and reports confuted the accusations against him and said:
"As Executive Board of Amnesty International, together with all our employees, we do not only work under the regulations of Turkey but also under other international monitoring mechanisms. Amnesty International cannot take part in any activity that could be linked with criminal organizations.
"My connection to İdil Eser, as described in the indictment, is a necessity considering my position as manager of the association".
Referring to the accusations against him that he was a member of an armed terrorist organization, Kılıç said that the indictment did not include any information about what he did in particular and only claimed that he used ByLock (an encrypted communication software allegedly used among members of Gülen Community) and he had deposited money to Bank Asya (a bank allegedly linked with the Gülen Community).
"Through reports and documents in my file, it has been proved that these accusations were not true", Kılıç said and added:
"Together with 24 others [...] I am staying in a ward that is supposed to be for only eight people, and I demand that my unjust treatment be ended".
Taştan: Indictment contradicts natural flow of life
Beginning his statement of defence with the words, "We are being tried over advocating for rights", Taştan said:
"Despite out countless requests, the prosecution refused any evidence that would be in our favor. Second of all, in an investigation that is run in confidence, information that even we or our attorneys were not able to reach, were made public on TV and in newspapers. Yet the prosecutor's office did not take any measures.
"The prosecutor's office constantly points to 'the natural flow of life' yet this natural flow has been used against us. In contradiction to the natural flow of life, the prosecutor's office has allowed itself to accuse us of being members to three organizations which in no way can league together".
Addressing the accusations in the indictment, Taştan stated that although he had explained to the prosecution countless times, that the claims that he had contacted a person who was a ByLock user, were groundless and that the mentioned phone number did not even belong to him, the prosecutor insisted to include the claims in the indictment.
Nejat Taştan was released on probation with an international travel ban in the first hearing of the trial on July 25.
Özbekli: Don't even know where Gezi Park is
In his statement of defence, Özbekli said:
"I and my colleagues did not get involved in any crime. I am 24 years old and have been working actively in Diyarbakır Bar Association for three months.
"I attended the meeting on behalf of the Rights Initiative that was set up by a group of rights defenders from MAZLUMDER (Association of Human Rights and Solidarity with the Oppressed), in the last weeks of my internship.
"In the indictment, they mention that 'we were planning a second Gezi Insurgence'. I don't even know where Gezi Park is.
"I am a lawyer with a fresh career. My only purpose is to advocate for human rights, same as other colleagues here who sit on the defendants' stand.
"Upon the prosecution's objection that was released for the first time, I appeared before the court myself and turned myself in. And I was released again after deposition on the condition that I reported to police twice a week".
Expert confirms: No ByLock installed on Kılıç's cell phone
After the one-hour break following the defendants' statements of defence, the court heard IT expert Koray Peksayar.
Peksayar stated that "the examination of the cell phone confirms that ByLock had in no way been installed".
The 10 rights advocates detained in Büyükada are being charged with "committing crimes on behalf of the terrorist organization without being a member" (Article 220/6 of Turkish Penal Code/TCK ) and "being a member of an armed terrorist organization" (Articles 314/2 and 314/3 of TCK).
Taner Kılıç, who was included in the indictment of Büyükada lawsuit later as a suspect, is being charged with "being a member of an armed terrorist organization" (Articles 314/2 of TCK).
According to the bill of indictment, prepared by Public Prosecutor Can Tuncay, the rights defenders are claimed to be members of the Fethullahist Terrorist Organization/Parallel State Organization (FETÖ/PDY), Kurdistan Workers' Party/Kurdistan Communities Union (PKK/KCK) and The Revolutionary People's Liberation Party/Front (DHKP/C).
Board of Judges
Chief Judge: Adem Aygün
Member judges: Ayhan Arduç, Gülşah Eğilmez Türüdi
On July 5, 10 rights advocates from various rights organizations were taken into custody during a training workshop with the topic "Protection and digital security of human rights advocates" in Büyükada, one of the Prince Islands in İstanbul. Nothing was heard from detained rights defenders for 30 hours.
On July 18, Idil Eser (Amnesty International Turkey Director), Özlem Dalkıran (Citizens' Assembly / formerly called Helsinki Citizens Association), Günal Kurşun (Human Rights Agenda Association), Veli Acu (Human Rights Agenda Association), Ali Garawi (citizen of Sweden / human rights trainer), and Peter Steudtner (citizen of Germany / human rights trainer) were arrested on charges of "committing crimes on behalf of the terrorist organization without being a member" (Article 220/6 of Turkish Penal Code/TCK ) and "being a member of an armed terrorist organization" (Articles 314/2 and 314/3 of TCK).
On July 23, İlknur Üstün (Women's Coalition) and Nalan Erkem (Citizens' Assembly / formerly called Helsinki Citizens Association), who were released on probation earlier with an international travel ban, were arrested later upon the prosecutor’s objection to their release.
Amnesty International Turkey Executive Board Chair Taner Kılıç who had been in pre-trial detention since June 2017 in another case, was included to the indictment of Büyükada lawsuit later as a suspect.
According to the bill of indictment prepared by Public Prosecutor Can Tuncay, the rights defenders are claimed to be members of the Fethullahist Terrorist Organization/Parallel State Organization (FETÖ/PDY), Kurdistan Workers' Party/Kurdistan Communities Union (PKK/KCK) and The Revolutionary People's Liberation Party/Front (DHKP/C).
On October 25, the court ruled that Günal Kurşun, İlknur Üstün, İdil Eser, Nalan Erkem, Peter Steudtner, Özlem Dalkıran, Ali Garawi and Veli Acu be released. In addition, an international travel ban was imposed on Özlem Dalkıran and Veli Acu, and the probation order for Şeyhmus Özbekli and Nejat Taştan that was issued on July 25, was revoked.
The file of Taner Kılıç, who was standing trial in a separate case held before İzmir 16 Assize Court on charge of "financing terrorism and spying" and was later included in the indictment of Büyükada lawsuit as a suspect, was combined with the main Büyükada Case.
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