A “terror investigation” is launched against journalist Hazal Ocak, photo journalist Vedat Arık, Chief editors Olcay Büyüktaş and İpek Özbey due to the news entitled “There is illegal [construction] in Bosphorus” (Boğazda kaçak var) on the ground that Altun’s residential address and photo were used in the news and he was thereby “shown as a target to terrorist organizations.”
As part of this investigation, the İstanbul Security Branch Office has summoned them to depose to the Public Security Office.
An access ban was also imposed on the related news report.
The indictment charging the journalists with “turning a counterterrorism official into a target” and “violating privacy” was accepted by the İstanbul 26th High Criminal Court.
At the first hearing held on December 16, 2020, following the defense statements of the journalists, the court board gave time to the defendants’ attorneys to submit the list of evidence that they wanted to present. The next hearing will be held on March 18, 2021 (December 16).
At the hearing held on March 18, 2021, the court board accepted Presidential Communications Director Fahrettin Altun’s request for involvement in the case and ruled that the case file should be sent to the prosecutor’s office so that the opinion as to the accusations would be prepared. The next hearing will be held on June 24 (March 18).
At the hearing held on June 24, 2021, the prosecutor pronounced the final opinion as to the accusations and demanded that the journalists be penalized. The court gave time to the journalists and their attorneys to prepare their defense as to the accusations. The next hearing will be held on December 1 (June 24).
At the hearing held on December 1, 2021, the court board ruled that the decision of the Personal Data Protection Authority (KVKK) dated June 9, which put an emphasis on “press freedom”, and the İstanbul Metropolitan Municipality (İMM) Development Directorate’s investigation report regarding the construction in question should be requested. The next hearing will be held on March 31, 2022 (December 1).
At the hearing held on March 31, 2022, the intervening lawyer offered an excuse. Speaking at the hearing, lawyer Damla Çaltepe repeated her request for receiving an assignment letter from the Interior Ministry indicating that Presidency’s Communications Director Fahrettin Altun served in counterterrorism. Recalling that Altun’s statement was not taken as the intervening party, she requested that Altun be heard at the hearing. Accepting the excuse of the intervening lawyer, the court board rejected the other requests, not considering it necessary to invite Altun to the hearing. The next hearing will be held on September 27 (March 31).
At the hearing held on September 27, 2022, the court rejected the defendants’ lawyers’ request for asking for the detailed ruling handed down by the İstanbul Anadolu 17th Criminal Court of First Instance on the grounds that it would not contribute to the file and ruled that the file should be sent again to the prosecutor’s office to prepare the opinion as to the accusations. The next hearing will be held on February 1, 2023 (September 23).
At the hearing held on February 1, 2023, the prosecutor’s office reiterated the opinion expressed at the third hearing on June 24, 2021 and requesting the penalization of the journalists on the offenses charged. As the lawyers requested time to prepare their defense as to the accusations, the presiding judge recessed the hearing to examine the request and gave time to the journalists and their lawyers to prepare their statements as to the accusations. The next hearing will be held on April 5 (February 1).
The ninth hearing of the case was held on July 7, 2023 at Istanbul 26th High Criminal Court. The court acquitted the journalists on the grounds that the legal elements of the crime were not established (July 7).