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Defendants: Hüseyin Aykol, Zana Kaya, İnan Kızılkaya, Hatip Dicle

Media Outlet and Position: Özgür Gündem – Co-editor-in-chiefs, managing editor, politician

Accusations: Degrading Turkish nation, state of Republic of Turkey, the organs and institutions of the state

Possible sentence: from 6 months to 2 years

Court: İstanbul 2. Criminal Court

Case Background: 

Editors, journalists and columnists for now-shuttered Özgür Gündem newspaper were brought to court on several different charges such as “overtly inciting a crime”, “terrorist propaganda” or “overtly insulting government or state bodies” over the daily’s articles and reports.

Four defendants have been reportedly subject to 14 different investigations by the chief public prosecutor’s office in Istanbul. According to local reports, Chief Public Prosecutor had prepared 10 indictments on different charges for Aykol, 14 indictments for Kızılkaya, two for Kaya and one for politician Dicle, which were later merged by İstanbul 2. Civil Court under the charges of “overtly insulting the government, judiciary, and security forces” and “overtly insulting the Turkish nation, Turkish Republic and the General Assembly of Turkish Republic”.

Aykol was earlier sentenced to three years nine months and one year ten months 26 days in two different cases. In a separate case, co-editor-in-chief Hüseyin Aykol and reporter Ersin Çaksu were sentenced to 5 years and 3 months for “insulting the President”. Aykol and Çaksu’s sentences were suspended.

On February 21, 2019, the court issued an arrest warrant for Kurdish politician Hatip Dicle in order to get his statement and adjourned the next hearing. During the hearing on March 28, defense lawyers requested additional time. The court adjourned the next hearing until May 16.

On October 10 and February 6 hearings, the court decided to wait for the execution of the arrest warrant issued for defendant Dicle, adjourning the trial until June 2, 2020.

Due to the suspension of all judicial proceedings from early March until June 15 because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the June 2 hearing was postponed to September 22, 2020.

During the September 22 hearing, the journalists on trial were not present while their lawyer attended the hearing. It was noted that the presiding judge of the panel had changed.

During the hearing on December 15, 2020, the court decided to wait for the execution of the arrest warrant issued for defendant Dicle.

Many other journalists are being tried for daily’s articles and also for their participation in the solidarity campaign, “Editors-in-Chief on Watch” for the newspaper Özgür Gündem.

During the hearing on March 4, the lawyer of President Erdoğan requested Erdoğan’s participation in the next hearing, claiming that the crime constituted harmed Erdoğan individually. The lawyer of the case said that Erdogan is not likely to be harmed by the crime. Defense lawyers argued against the request, stressing that the charges that were brought against journalists were under Article 301 of the Turkish Criminal Law which regulates the crimes against the Turkish nation, state, and its institutions rather than damages to individuals.

The court ruled to wait for the missing documents in the file to be completed.

During the hearing on July 13, 2021, the court ruled to wait for the arrest warrant issued against co-defendant Hatip Dicle to be implemented.

The next hearing will be held on November 16, 2021.

Read the case background.