MEDIA MONITORING DATABASE
Gökçe Fırat Çulhaoğlu – “FETÖ” trial
RELATED PERSON OR INSTITUTION
Gökçe Fırat Çulhaoğlu
CITY
İstanbul
YEAR OF INTERFERENCE
2017
LAST UPDATED
29/11/2022
TYPE OF STATEMENT
Political
MEDIUM
Print Media
Periodicals
THE TITLE OF WHOSE RIGHT IS INTERFERED
Journalist
RIGHTS GUARANTEED UNDER THE RIGHT OF FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION
Right to Impart Information and Ideas
TYPE OF INTERFERENCE
Judicial Interference
Criminal Courts
Sentence to imprisonment
THE LEGAL GROUNDS FOR INTERFERENCE
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.

A lawsuit has been filed against 26 journalists including journalists Murat Aksoy and Atilla Taş, on the charges of “membership in a terrorist organization [FETÖ]” and “coup attempt” at the İstanbul 25th Heavy Penal Court. Columnist and singer Atilla Taş was sentenced to 3 years, 1 month and 15 days in prison while journalist Murat Aksoy was sentenced to 2 years and 1 month in prison.

Media workers Ali Akkuş, Ahmet Memiş, Muhammet Sait Kuloğlu, Erkan Acar, Oğuz Usluer, Hüseyin Aydın, Ufuk Şanlı, Yetkin Yıldız, Cuma Ulus were sentenced to 7 years 6 months in prison for “membership in a terrorist organisation”; Cihan Acar, Bünyamin Köseli, İbrahim Balta, Bayram Kaya, Cemal Azmi Kalyoncu, Habip Güler, Hanım Büşra Erdal, Mutlu Çölgeçen, Ünal Tanık, Yakup Çetin, Seyit Kılıç, Hüseyin Aydın, Abdullah Kılıç and Gökçe Fırat Çulhaoğlu were sentenced to 6 years 3 months in prison for 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 “coup attempt”. The 2nd Penal Chamber of the İstanbul Regional Court of Justice (BAM) 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. They had brought their cases before the Supreme Court.

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 (8 March 2018).The board also ruled that Muhterem Tanık shall be acquitted of the charge of “membership in a terrorist organization [FETÖ]”

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 8 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).

The hearing scheduled for November 29, 2022 was adjourned due to the busy schedule of the court. The next hearing will be held on February 7, 2023 (November 29).