“FETÖ Media Organisation” Trial – Ali Akkuş, editor of Zaman newspaper
Ali Akkuş
Print Media
Editor / Editor-In-Chief
Right to Impart Information and Ideas
Judicial Interference
Criminal Courts
Sentence to imprisonment
Turkish Penal Code
Art. 314/2

On 13 February 2017, İstanbul 25th Heavy Criminal Court accepted the indictment prepared for 29 defendants whom are mostly journalists.

The 25th High Criminal Court of İstanbul sentenced columnist and singer Atilla Taş to 3 years, 1 month and 15 days of imprisonment and sentenced journalist Murat Aksoy to 2 years and 1 month of imprisonment for “knowingly and willingly aiding an armed terrorist organization as a non-member” in the trial in which 26 media workers, 18 of whom were detained on charges of “membership in a terrorist organisation (FETÖ)”, “attempting to stage a coup”.

The court sentenced defendants Ahmet Memiş, Ali Akkuş, Muhammet Sait Kuloğlu, Multlu Çölgeçen, Seyid Kılıç, Ünal Tanık, Erkan Acar, Oğuz Usluer, Davut Aydın, Ufuk Şanlı, Yetkin Yıldız, Cuma Ulus to 7 years and 6 months in prison on charge of “being a member of an illegal organization. Cihan Acar, Bünyamin Köseli, İbrahim Balta, Bayram Kaya, Cemal Azmi Kalyoncu, Habip Güler, Hanım Büşra Erdal, Yakup Çetin, Hüseyin Aydın, Abdullah Kılıç ve Gökçe Fırat Çulhaoğlu were sentenced to 6 years and 3 months in prison by the same charge. Ali Akkuş, who was pending trial without arrest, was arrested. İstanbul 25th Heavy Penal Court ordered acquittal of all defendants over charge of “attempting to stage a coup”.The court separated files of Bülent Ceyhan and Said Sefa whose warrants weren’t executed (8 March 2018).

The sentences of prison, which were previously given to 26 people, including journalists Murat Aksoy and Atilla Taş, who were released in October 2017, on charges of “membership in a terrorist organisation” and “attempting to stage a coup”, have been upheld by the 2nd Penal Chamber of the İstanbul Regional Court of Justice (BAM). The court rejected the requests for appeal raised by defendants including Abdullah Kılıç, Ahmet Memiş, Ali Akkuş, Bayram Kaya, Bünyamin Köseli, Cemal Azmi Kalyoncu, Cihan Acar, Cuma Ulus, Davut Aydın, Gökçe Fırat Çulhaoğlu, Habip Güler, Halil İbrahim Balta, Hanım Büşra Erdal, Hüseyin Aydın, Muhammet Sait Kuloğlu, Mustafa Erkan Acar, Mutlu Çölgeçen, Oğuz Usluer and Ünal Tanık. The court also ruled for the continuation of their arrest.

The prison sentences previously given to journalists Atilla Taş and Murat Aksoy have become definitive since that they are less than five years. The court board of the İstanbul 25th Heavy Penal Court had previously ruled that the files of fugitive defendants Bülent Ceyhan and Said Sefa shall be separated since the arrest warrants issued against them had not been executed. The board also ruled that Muhterem Tanık shall be acquitted of the charge of “membership in a terrorist organisation” (24 October 2018).

In its decision dated 16 March 2020, the 16th Criminal Chamber of the Supreme Court of Appeals reversed the decision of court of first instance in terms of the sentences imposed against 6 journalist  on the charges of “membership to a terrorist organization”. Meanwhile, court upheld the sentences imposed on Hanım Büşra Erdal, Cuma Ulus, Mutlu Çölgeçen, Bayram Kaya, Bünyamin Köseli, Abdullah Kılıç, Cihan Acar, Davut Aydın, Habip Güler, Halil İbrahim Balta, Hüseyin Aydın, Muhammet Sait Kuloğlu, Mustafa Erkan Acar, Oğuz Usluer, Seyid Kılıç, Murat Aksoy and Ufuk Şanlı.

The prison sentences against Ahmet Memiş, Cemal Azmi Kalyoncu, Gökçe Fırat Çulhaoğlu, Ünal Tanık, Yakup Çetin and Yetkin Yıldız were reversed due to lack of sufficient interrogation. On the other hand, court reversed the sentence of 3 years 1 month and 15 days imprisonment decided against singer and journalist Atilla Taş for “aiding to a terrorist organization”. It stated that Atilla Taş’s actions constituted the crime of “insulting the President and publicly humiliating the institutions and bodies of the State”.

The 16th Criminal Chamber of the Supreme Court of Appeals has also reversed the judgement against Ali Akkuş and journalist was released with the decision.

After the decision by the 16th Criminal Chamber of the Supreme Court of Appeals, Ahmet Memiş, Cemal Azmi Kalyoncu, Gökçe Fırat, Ünal Tanık, Yakup Çetin ve Yetkin Yıldız were released by the 25th High Criminal Court of İstanbul. The retrial will be held on November 4 (15 June).

At the first hearing of the retrial that began on November 4, 2020, the defendants requested their acquittal and the lifting of the judicial control measures previously imposed on them. The court has rejected the request for lifting judicial control measures on the defendants. The next hearing will be held on March 31, 2021 (November 4). 

At the hearing held on March 31, 2021, the court board ruled that the judicial control measures in the form of giving signatures should be lifted while the international travel bans should remain in effect. It also ruled that the request for separation of the case file raised by Atilla Taş’s attorney should be examined after the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) judgement was added to the file. The next hearing will be held on October 26 (March 31).

At the hearing held on October 26, 2021, the Presiding Judge indicated that the Justice Ministry’s permission for the trial of Atilla Taş as per the Article 301 of the Turkish Penal Court (TCK) was being awaited and his statement as to this accusation had not been taken. The court board lifted the judicial control measures of all defendants, except for Taş. The next hearing will be held on February 17, 2022 (October 26).

At the hearing held on February 17, 2022, the prosecutor requested that the request of Atilla Taş’s lawyer for lifting his judicial control measure be rejected on the grounds that the measure was proportional. Leaving the request for the separation of his file to the discretion of the court, the prosecutor demanded that the deficiencies in the file be rectified. The court ruled that Atilla Taş’s file should be separated and his international travel ban should remain in effect and that the deficiencies in the file should be rectified. The next hearing will be held on June 22 (February 17). 

At the hearing held on June 23, 2022, the court ruled that the ECtHR judgment should be awaited, the international travel ban on Gökçe Fırat should be lifted and the file should be sent to the prosecutor’s office to prepare its final opinion as to the accusations. The next hearing will be held on November 29 (June 23).