Özgür Gündem newspaper was shut down on 16 August 2016 by the decision of Istanbul 8th Criminal Judgeship of Peace. Subsequent to this decision journalists and executives of the newspaper were taken into custody and İnan Kızılkaya, Aslı Erdoğan, Zana Kaya and Necmiye Alpay were arrested.
At the first hearing on 29 December 2016, Erdoğan, Alpay and Kaya were released. The court has lifted the international travel ban imposed on Necmiye Alpay and Aslı Erdoğan in June 2017.
Kızılkaya and Kemal Sancılı were released pending trial with an international travel ban on 31 October 2017.
The arrest warrant against publisher journalist Zarakolu was lifted at the hearing on 6 March 2018, as he reported that he was open to participate to the trial from Sweden. At the same hearing, the continuation of the arrest warrant against Koçali was ordered. While it was decided to continue the prohibition of Eren Keskin to go abroad, it was decided to exempt Necmiye Alpay from the hearings.
The court, which decided to return the digital materials whose examination was finished at the hearing on October 10, 2018, postponed the trial until 17 January 2019 for the defendants and lawyers to examine the digital examination reports.
At the 15th hearing of the trial on 13 January 2020, the prosecution submitted its opinion regarding the judgement.
Public Prosecution Office requested managing editor İnan Kızılkaya, the owner Kemal Sancılı and former editor-in-chief Eren Keskin to be punished by “being a member of a terrorist organization”. Zana (Bilir) Kaya was requested to be punished with “propagandizing successively for a terrorist organization by means of media” due to the articles and news published in the newspaper during the period when he was the Co-Editor. The prosecutor, who demanded a prison sentence for the allegation of “propagandizing for a terrorist organization” in terms of writer Aslı Erdoğan, demanded the acquittal of Necmiye Alpay and Bilge Aykut from all charges. The prosecutor requested that the files of the other defendants, Filiz Koçali and Ragıp Zarakolu, be separated.
The trial was postponed to 14 February for lawyers’ defends against the opinion.
In the hearing held on February 14, the court has ruled that the files of Zana (Bilir) Kaya, İnan Kızılkaya, Kemal Sancılı and Eren Keskin shall also be separated as time has been requested for their statements of defense as to the accusations. The court has ruled for the acquittal of Necmiye Alpay and Bilge Aykut.
Pronouncing its judgement on Aslı Erdoğan, the court has ruled that she shall be acquitted of “disrupting the unity and territorial integrity of the state” and “membership of a terrorist organization.” The charge of “propagandizing for a terrorist organization” brought against Erdoğan has also dropped as the four-month period stipulated by the Press Law has been exceeded (14 February)