Columnist Mümtazer Türköne is standing trial in which 31 media employees are prosecuted for participating or supporting the coup attempt and for “FETÖ / PDY membership”, including former writers of “Zaman Newspaper” (Şahin), Şahin Alpay, Ali Bulaç, Ahmet Turan Alkan, Nuriye Akman and Mustafa Ünal. Türköne was taken into custody on 27.7.2016 and was arrested on 4.8.2016 on the charge of knowingly helping a terrorist organization without being its member.
In the indictment accepted by the Istanbul 13th High Criminal Court on 24.4.2017, the crime Türköne was charged with changed. He is tried for being a member of the “terrorist organization”.
Türköne lodged an individual application with the Constitutional Court (TCC) on 28.3.2017, submitting the allegations that the arrest was unlawful, that the detention exceeded the reasonable time and that his freedom of press and expression was violated.
The 13th Heavy Penal Court pronounced 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, on July 6, 2018. The court board sentenced Şahin Alpay, Ali Bulaç and Ahmet Turan Alkan to 8 years and 9 months; İbrahim Karayeğen to 9 years; and Mümtazer Türköne and Mustafa Ünal to 10 years and 6 months in prison. The court board ruled that Ahmet Turan Alkan and İbrahim Karayeğen shall be released from prison. As for Mustafa Ünal and Mümtazer Türköne, the court board ruled for the continuation of their detentions. While the court board ruled that all of the 11 defendants shall be acquitted of the charge of “violating the Constitution”, Orhan Kemal Cengiz, Lale Sarıibrahimoğlu, İhsan Dağı, Nuriye Ural and Mehmet Özdemir have been acquitted of all charges pressed against them (6 July).
On 25 June 2019, the Court of Appeal upheld this decision. The file is under the scrutinize of the Supreme Court of Appeals.
On 27.11.2019, TCC made its decision regarding the application of Türköne. TCC decided that there was a reasonable suspicion that Mumtazer Türköne had committed a crime because he systematically opposed all the methods developed by the state to fight the organization, and considered that the pre-trial detention measure was proportionate, arguing that there was a suspicion of destruction or concealing evidence or the risk of flee the jurisdiction. In the light of these evaluations, TCC concluded that the freedom of press and expression was not violated.
Türköne was released based on a judgment by the Supreme Court of Appeals, which overturned Türköne’s conviction in the “Zaman trial” on September 24.
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).
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).
At the hearing held on November 2, 2022, Mümtazer Türköne, Şahin Alpay and lawyer Aynur Tuncel Yazgan were present in the courtroom. Ahmet Turan Alkan and other lawyers of defendants did not attend the hearing by offering an excuse. The court did not conclude the trial due to the excuses. The next hearing will be held on November 28 (November 2).
At the hearing held on November 28, 2022, the court ruled that the newspaper’s former columnists Mümtazer Türköne, Şahin Alpay, Ali Bulaç and Ahmet Turan Alkan should be penalized for “aiding a terrorist organization as non-members”. Türköne was sentenced to 3 years, 9 months in prison and Bulaç, Alpay and Alkan to 2 years, 6 months in prison (November 28).