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Defendants: Can Dündar, Osman Kavala, Ayşe Mücella Yapıcı, Yiğit Aksakoğlu, Mehmet Ali Alabora, Ayşe Pınar Alabora, Gökçe Yılmaz, Handan Meltem Arıkan, Hanzade Hikmet Germiyanoğlu, İnanç Ekmekçi, +5 others

Media Outlet and Position: Cumhuriyet – Former Editor-in-Chief

Accusations: Attempt to overthrow the government and/or prevent it from fulfilling its duty

Charges: –

Court: İstanbul 30. High Criminal Court

Case Background:

Can Dündar, former editor-in-chief of independent daily Cumhuriyet, faces new charges along with six other defendants including prominent actors, writers and CSO representatives for “attempting to overthrow the government” as part of an investigation launched in 2015 against 2013 Gezi Park protests in Turkey. Istanbul Chief Prosecution’s Office prepared an indictment initially against 16 people asking heavy charges.

The Gezi Park investigation file was released on October 18, 2017, when businessman and philanthropist Osman Kavala was detained.

An arrest warrant was issued against journalist Can Dündar on December 5, 2018, on the grounds that he had an active role in Gezi Park protests. In the statement by the Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office, it was claimed that Dündar was trying to incite the public and guide them during the protests.

The indictment against 16 defendants in the first trial alleged that the defendants tried to ignite and direct the Gezi Park events and the protests were ‘’financed’’ and managed by these names. 657-page long indictment asked for aggravated life imprisonment on the grounds of ‘’attempting to overthrow the government of the Republic of Turkey.’’ In the indictment, the Gezi Park Protests were described as ‘’coup attempt.’’

İstanbul 3oth High Criminal Court accepted the indictment on March 4, 2019, and held the first hearing on June 24, 2019. 16 defendants were charged with sentence in prison from 606 years up to 2,970 years. The total sentence requested for the defendants was amounting to 47,520 years. A total of 746 complaints were included in the indictment including of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and ministers of the 61st government.

During the first hearing of the Gezi Park Trial with 16 defendants, the court gave an interim decision for the continuation of Osman Kavala’s detention but released the only other jailed defendant Yiğit Aksakoğlu. The detailed ruling of the release decision which was taken as majority votes was not disclosed.

The defendants Ayşe Mücella Yapıcı, Can Atalay, Tayfun Kahraman, Ali Hakan Altınay, Osman Kavala, Yiğit Aksakoğlu, Yiğit Ali Ekmekçi, Çiğdem Mater Utku and Mine Özerden were acquitted of all charges on February 18, 2020.

While the court lifted the arrest warrants against Ayşe Pınar Alabora, Can Dündar, Gökçe Tüylüoğlu, Handan Meltem Arıkan, Hanzade Hikmet Germiyanoğlu, İnanç Ekmekçi and Mehmet Ali Alabora;  separate arrest warrants were issued against these defendants in the name of “requesting their statement.”

The trial of 7 defendants whose files were separated from the original Gezi Trial started at the Istanbul 3o. High Criminal Court on June 16, 2020. The second hearing of this case took place on September 15, 2020.

During the hearing, the court rejected the defendants’ requests to submit their defense statements from abroad, and ruled to wait until the execution of the arrest warrants imposed on the defendants.

During the hearing on January 14, 2021, the court decided to wait until the arrest warrants to be executed and adjourned the hearing until April 28, 2021.

During April 28 hearing, the court ruled to re-merge the case file with the main Gezi Trial where nine other human rights defenders, activists including imprisoned prominent philanthropist Osman Kavala were on trial after their acquittals were overturned by an appeals court on January 22, 2021.

The next hearing took place on May 21 now with 16 co-defendants under the main case trial. The court adjourned the trial until August 6 in order to wait for the execution of arrest warrants for those seven defendants who had to flee the country including journalist Can Dündar.