Taraf newspaper’s former administrators Ahmet Altan, Yasemin Çongar and Yıldıray Oğur, reporter Mehmet Baransu, and Aktüel reporter Tuncay Opçin have been standing trial at the Istanbul 13rd High Criminal Court for “Obtaining and securing documents relating to State Security,” “Disclosing information that must be kept confidential for reasons relating to the security, or domestic and foreign political interests of the State through press,” and “propagandising for a terrorist organisation”. Baransu and Opçin have also faced with imprisonment for “establishing and leading an armed terrorist organisation” Baransu and Opçin face up to 75 years and Çongar, Oğur and Altan face up to 52 years of imprisonment.
In July 2019, the Court, disclosing its decision, ordered the continuation of Mehmet Baransu’s detention. The Court decided to separate the file concerning the charge of “membership in a terrorist organisation” so that Baransu’s case file be merged with another case that’s heard before the Mersin 2nd High Criminal Court. In addition, the Court decided Esra Konur (Baransu’s former spouse) be heard as witnesses.
In the last hearing held on August 27- 29, 2019, Baransu continued making his defense statement on 29 August. The court ordered the continuation of Baransu’s detention. The next hearing will be held on December, 10-11-12 December 2019.
At the hearing held between 10-11-12 December, statements of defendants and witnesses were proffered. The next hearing will be on 8-9-10 April 2020 and the prosecution office is expected to submit their opinion on the verdict.
The trial, which was supposed to take place on 8 April, was postponed to 3 June due to the measures taken against coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic (4 May).
Baransu, the only defendant in pre-trial detention in the case, attended the second day of the hearing at the Istanbul 13th High Criminal Court via judicial videoconference system SEGBİS. The court ruled for continuation of pre-trial detention of Baransu. The trial was adjourned until 12-14 October 2020 (12 August).
At the hearing that started on October 12, 2020 and was going to last three days, Mehmet Baransu on remand was present in the courtroom while other defendants Yasemin Çongar, Ahmet Altan, Yıldıray Oğur and Tuncay Opçin did not attend the hearing. Making his defense, Baransu rejected the charges. Making their defense afterwards, his attorneys stated that they agreed with their client’s defense.
Handing down its interlocutory judgement, the court board has ruled for the continuation of Baransu’s detention on remand and the rectification of missing issues. The next hearing will be held on December 9, 2020 (October 13).
The hearing expected to be held on December 9 has been adjourned until March 4, 2021 on the grounds that the Presiding Judge was on leave and that the attorneys presented an excuse (December 9).
At the hearing held on March 4, 2021, the court board ruled that the arrest of Mehmet Baransu, the only arrested defendant of the case, should continue and the file of the case should be sent to the prosecutor’s office to prepare the opinion as to the accusations. The next hearing will be held on June 2 (March 4).
At the hearing held on June 2, 2021, the prosecutor presented the opinion as to the accusations and demanded that the newspaper’s former executives Ahmet Altan, Yasemin Çongar and Yıldıray Oğur be sentenced to prison on charge of “disclosing documents that need to remain confidential.” Handing down its interim ruling, the court board ruled that Mehmet Baransu should remain behind bars. The defense attorneys’ requests for extending the investigation were rejected. The next hearing will be held on October 18-19 (June 2).
At the hearing held on October 18, 2021, the court board ruled that the requests for recusation should be rejected and the arrest of Baransu should continue. The next hearing will be held on November 12 (October 18).
Mehmet Baransu did not attend the hearing on November 12, 2021. The court board ruled that the finalization of the request for recusal examined by the İstanbul 14th High Criminal Court should be awaited. The next hearing will be held on January 21, 2022 (November 12).
At the hearing held on January 21, 2022, the court board pronounced its interim ruling and ruled that the arrest of Mehmet Baransu should continue. The next hearing will be held on March 4 (January 21).
At the final hearing held on March 4, 2022, the court board ruled that Mehmet Baransu should be sentenced to 13 years in prison in total, 6 years for “obtaining documents about the security of the state” and 7 years in prison for “disclosing information about the security of the state and its political interests”.
The court also ruled that Yasemin Çongar, Ahmet Altan and Yıldıray Oğur should be sentenced to 3 years, 4 months in prison on charge of “obtaining documents about the security of the state” and that Çongar, Altan and Oğur should be acquitted of the other offenses charged.
Ruling that the file of Tuncay Opçin, against whom there was a warrant and who did not attend the hearings, should be separated from others, the court ruled that the defendants should pay 10,250 Turkish Lira (TRY) each to be given to intervening parties Çetin Doğan, İzzet Ocak, Kadır Sağdıç, Nedim Ulusan, Suat Aytın (March 7).
The 27th Penal Chamber of the İstanbul Regional Court of Justice (Court of Appeals) reversed the ruling against Mehmet Baransu, who had been sentenced to 13 years in prison for plotting in the Balyoz Case. The court also ruled for his release as Baransu had completed his prison term. Baransu would not be released as he was behind bars as part of another trial heard by the Mersin 2nd High Criminal Court (October 10).