Journalist Murat Ağırel from Yeniçağ Newspaper was requested to proffer his testimony regarding an ongoing investigation. On 6th of March, the journalist gave his statement in regards to the article on the funeral of a National Intelligence Organization (MİT) member who lost his/her life in Libya. Journalist was released on the same day and a judicial control decision was issued. Upon the public prosecutor’s objection to the decision, the journalist was taken into custody and was arrested on March 8, subsequently.
Meanwhile an amendment was introduced on criminal execution law in order to reduce the prison population due to COVID19 pandemic. Following this development, journalists’ lawyers submitted a request for the release of 6 journalists. Lawyers stated that even if their clients were convicted, the sentence would not be executed in prison since the aforementioned amendment extended the duration of probation to 3 years.
During April 12th night session, offenses stipulated by the Law No. 2937 on the State Intelligence Services and the Turkish National Intelligence Organization (MİT) were also excluded from the amendment on the Criminal Execution Law.
In its judgment on April 30th, Istanbul 4th Criminal Judgeship of Peace rejected the request, deciding that the arrest was proportionate. Journalists’ lawyers announced that they would appeal against the decision.
On May 1st, an arrest warrant was issued against Erk Acarer who was indicted within the same prosecution.
On May 8, the indictment prepared against Barış Terkoğlu, Hülya Kılınç, Barış Pehlivan, Aydın Keser, Ferhat Çelik and Murat Ağırel was accepted by the 34th of High Criminal Court of İstanbul. The court decided to the continuation of their imprisonment. The first hearing will be held on June 24.
At the first hearing of the trial on 24 June, Istanbul 34th High Criminal Court released Barış Terkoğlu Ferhat Çelik and Aydın Keser with the decision of judicial control. Court decided on the continuation of the detention of Barış Pehlivan, Hülya Kılınç and Murat Ağırel. Next hearing will be held on September 9.
At hearing held on September 9, Aydın Keser, Barış Pehlivan, Barış Terkoğlu, Eren Ekinci, Hülya Kılınç, Ferhat Çelik ve Murat Ağırel have been acquitted of “disclosing state information” as per Article 329 of the Turkish Penal Code.
Terkoğlu and Ekinci have been acquitted of disclosing information and documents related to intelligence operations as per Article 27/3 of the MİT law. Judicial control measures on Barış Terkoğlu have been lifted.
The court has sentenced Aydın Keser, Ferhat Çelik and Murat Ağırel to 4 years, 8 months and 7 days and Barış Pehlivan and Hülya Kılınç to 3 years and 9 months in prison for violating the Law on National Intelligence Organization (MİT). The time they spent behind bars while they were remanded in custody will be deducted from their sentences.
Considering the time Barış Pehlivan, Hülya Kılınç and Murat Ağırel spent in prison when they were remanded in custody, the court has ruled for their release with an international travel ban. Also, the judicial control measures imposed on Aydın Keser and Ferhat Çelik have been lifted.
The case of Erk Acarer, who is currently abroad, has been separated from the main case (9 September).
On February 2, 2022, the appeals court upheld the prison sentences given to journalists Barış Pehlivan, Hülya Kılınç, Murat Ağırel, Aydın Keser and Ferhat Çelik over their news and posts about the death of a National Intelligence Organization (MİT) official in Libya (February 2).
With their prison sentences upheld by the 3rd Penal Chamber of the İstanbul Regional Court of Justice, Murat Ağırel, Barış Pehlivan and Hülya Kılınç were arrested again on February 15, 2022 (February 15).
As the Bakırköy Judgeship of Execution ruled for their supervised release, Pehlivan and Ağırel were released in the evening of February 15. Kılınç was also given a supervised release at noon on February 16 (February 15-16).