The “Karşı newspaper trial,” where 12 defendants, including the former publisher of the shuttered daily, Turan Ababey, and the newspaper’s former employees, including its one-time editor in chief Eren Erdem, stand accused of various criminal charges on account of their work at the newspaper, got under way on 31 October in Istanbul.
The indictment for the merged case file seeks up to 15 years of imprisonment for Alaaddin Akkaşoğlu, the owner of the newspaper’s website, karşıgazete.com, and a partner of the shuttered Akis Publications; karşıgazete.com chief editor Mehmet Aydoğmuş; Onur Kala, Murat Kazancı, the news director for the hardcopy; and Emrah Direk, on the charge of “membership in an armed terrorist organization.” Kutlu Esendemir, the newspaper’s general coordinator, is accused of “knowingly and willingly aiding an armed terrorist organization without being its member.” He faces 15 years in prison.
The indictment also seeks up to 18 years in prison each for Karşı reporter Ufuk Emin Köroğlu and former editor in chief of the shuttered Millet daily, Değer Özergün, on charges of “membership in an armed terrorist organization” and “disclosing the identities of public officials who have taken part in the fight against terrorism.”
İstanbul 23rd High Criminal Court issued arrest warrants for five of the suspects: Alaaddin Akkaşoğlu, Değer Özergün, Mehmet Aydoğmuş, Murat Kazancı and Onur Kala. The hearings have continued on 7-8-9-10-11 January 2019.
On March 1, the hearing was held and İstanbul 23rd High Criminal Court ordered the continuation of Erdem’s detention on remand pending the appeal process. The court of Istanbul convicted Erdem, who has been jailed pending trial as part of the case since last summer, and the newspaper’s publisher Turan Ababey of “aiding a terrorist organization without being its member” and sentenced each to 4 years and 2 months in prison. The court acquitted Erdem of “violating the confidentiality of an investigation” and “disclosing the identity of an anonymous witness” charges but ordered the continuation of Erdem’s detention on remand pending the appeal process.
Journalists Kutlu Esendemir and Mehmet Bozkurt, who were also accused of “aiding a terrorist group without being its member,” were both acquitted. The court also convicted the defendant Emre Erciş of the same charge as Erdem and Ababey and gave him a prison sentence of 3 years, 1 month and 15 days.
The prosecution had also asked for the separation of the files of defendants Değer Özergün, Ufuk Emin Köroğlu, Mehmet Aydoğmuş, Murat Kazancı and Emrah Direk, whose statements were still not taken because they had been at large.
In its ruling, the trial court ordered the separation of the file against Kala and also ruled to wait for the execution of the arrest warrants against five defendants at large and merge them in a separate file.