MEDIA MONITORING DATABASE
Trial of Ali Bulaç, former columnist for Zaman newspaper
RELATED PERSON OR INSTITUTION
Ali Bulaç
CITY
İstanbul
YEAR OF INTERFERENCE
2016
LAST UPDATED
28/06/2022
TYPE OF STATEMENT
Political
MEDIUM
Print Media
Newspaper
THE TITLE OF WHOSE RIGHT IS INTERFERED
Journalist
RIGHTS GUARANTEED UNDER THE RIGHT OF FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION
Right to Impart Information and Ideas
TYPE OF INTERFERENCE
Judicial Interference
Criminal Courts
Sentence to imprisonment

The 13th Heavy Penal Court announced its verdict in the case where the 31 former columnists and workers of the Zaman daily newspaper, which was closed as per the Statutory Decree no. 686, including Şahin Alpay, Ali Bulaç, Mümtazer Türköne, Ahmet T. Alkan, Nuriye Akman and Mustafa Ünal were tried on charges of “coup attempt” and “membership in a terrorist organisation (FETÖ)” on July 6, 2018.

The court sentenced Şahin Alpay, Ali Bulaç and Ahmet Turan Alkan to 8 years and 9 months of imprisonment, İbrahim Karayeğen to 9 years of imprisonment, and Mümtazer Türköne and Mustafa Ünal to 10 years and 6 months of imprisonment.

The Constitutional Court decided that “a violation of rights in the case of Ali Bulaç”

The 2nd Criminal Chamber of the Istanbul Regional Court of Justice, on June 25, 2019, upheld the prison sentences given to 11 former writers and editors of the closed Zaman newspaper. The decision was transferred to the Supreme Court of Appeal.

After the 16th Penal Chamber of the Court of Cassation overturned the rulings of columnists Şahin Alpay, Ali Bulaç and Mümtazer Türköner, who were convicted of “membership of a terrorist organization” in July 2018, and editor Mehmet Özdemir, who was acquitted in the first trial, the retrial began on April 13, 2021. The court ruled that the remitter of the 16th Penal Chamber of the Court of Cassation should be abided by. The court also ruled that Binnaz Toprak, Ümit Erol, Zekeriya Tüzen and Hüseyin Gülerce should be heard as witnesses and a warrant should be issued against Mehmet Özdemir, who did not attend the hearing. The next hearing will be held on September 9 (April 13).

Examining the application regarding the arrest of former Zaman newspaper columnist Ali Bulaç, the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) has concluded that his right to liberty and security as per the Article 5/1 of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) and his freedom of expression as per the Article 10 of the ECHR have been violated. The ECtHR has also ruled that Ali Bulaç shall be paid 12,240 Euro in damages (June 8).

At the hearing held on September 9, 2021, the court board ruled that the international travel ban on Mümtazer Türköne should remain in effect; the digital materials of Ali Bulaç should be returned after a copy of them was taken and the translation of the ECtHR ruling on Bulaç should be requested; a notification should be made to hear the witness reported by Şahin Alpay; a new notification should be made to hear Hüseyin Gülerce as a witness; and the deficiencies should be rectified. The next hearing will be held on January 11, 2022 (September 9).

At the hearing held on January 11, 2022, two witnesses, including Hüseyin Gülerce, were heard. The court board ruled that the judicial control measures should remain in force, the execution of the warrant against Mehmet Özdemir should be awaited and the case file should be sent to the prosecutor’s office for the final opinion as to the accusations. The next hearing will be held on April 7 (January 11).

At the hearing held on April 7, 2022, the prosecutor’s office pronounced its opinion as to the accusations and requested that Ali Bulaç, Şahin Alpay, Mümtazer Türköne ve Ahmet Turan Alkan be penalized on charge of “aiding the organization as non-members”. The office also demanded that the file of Mehmet Özdemir, against whom there was a warrant, be split from others. The lawyers of the defendants requested time to make a statement as to the accusations. The court accepted the requests. The next hearing will be held on June 28 (April 7). 

At the hearing held on June 28, 2022, the court ruled that the judicial control measures on the defendants should be lifted and a writ should be written so that all seized digital materials of the defendants would be returned. The next hearing will be held on November 2 (June 28).