Erdoğan Alayumat, a local reporter for Dihaber based in Hatay, has been in custody for more than six months. He and his younger colleague Nuri Akman, who was released on judicial control terms, face up to 45 years in prison.
He was taken into custody on 14 July 2017 in the Islahiye district of the southeastern province of Gaziantep on “reasonable suspicion” grounds. Alayumat was detained along with his co-worker, reporter Nuri Akman, as they were covering a story. A trial against two journalists of the Dicle Medya News Agency (Dihaber), an outlet closed by decree on August 2017, accused of “procuring confidential state documents for political or military espionage purposes” and “membership in a terrorist organization”, has begun in Hatay province on February 2.
Alayumat and Akman told the court that the indictment was solely based on their news reports and photographs, some of which weren’t even taken by them. Presenting his defense statement from the Samsun Bafra Prison facility via the tele-conferencing system SEGBIS, Alayumat said the indictment had not provided any concrete evidence despite the gravity of the accusations.
Speaking on the “espionage” and “membership in a terrorist organisation” accusations, “a proof is needed to show when, to whom and how I sent this information,” Alayumat said. Working in a province bordering Syria, which had been directly affected from the nearby war, Alayumat’s coverage of allegations regarding supplies sent to Islamist groups by the Turkish intelligence agency MİT and the construction of a wall on the Syrian border had been pinpointed by prosecutors.
The trial’s final hearing took place on 1 March 2019. The response from the Turkish General Staff said the location photographed by Alayumat was not categorized as “confidential.”
The prosecution then requested for Alayumat and Akman’s acquittal of the “espionage” charge. The prosecution however requested that Alayumat be convicted of the “membership in a terrorist group” charge.
In its verdict, the Hatay 2nd High Criminal Court acquitted both Alayumat and Akman of both charges (1 March)