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Özgürlükçü Demokrasi Retrial
Defendants: İhsan Yaşar, İshak Yasul, Mehmet Ali Çelebi, Mizgin Fendik, Pınar Tarlak, Reyhan Hacıoğlu, Hicran Urun
Media Outlet and Position: Özgürlükçü Demokrasi Newspaper – Executives, editors and journalists
Accusations: Membership of a terrorist organization; Spreading terrorist propaganda; Publishing and distributing terrorist organization’s material
Possible sentences: –
Court: İstanbul 23. High Criminal Court
The buildings of the pro-Kurdish Özgürlükçü Demokrasi newspaper and the printing press Gün Matbaa in Istanbul were raided by police on March 28, 2018. A government trustee was appointed on the same day until it was shut down by decree-law (No.701) in June 2018.
Immediately following the police raid on the daily’s offices, the newspaper’s publisher, İhsan Yaşar, was arrested on the same day, as ordered by the chief public prosecutor’s office. His arrest was followed by the arrest of İshak Yasul, the managing editor of Özgürlükçü Demokrasi, on March 30, 2018.
On April 4, 2018, seven additional editors and reporters for the newspaper were taken into custody in relation to the same case. While three of them were released on bail, editors Mehmet Ali Çelebi, Reyhan Hacıoğlu, Hicran Urun and reporter Pınar Tarlak were ordered to be kept in detention.
Accusations against the newspaper’s executives and journalists include “aiding and abetting a terrorist organization”, “membership in a terrorist organization” and “producing terrorist propaganda”. As criminal evidence, the case file includes news articles on Turkey’s military operation in Afrin and words in those articles such as “resistance”, “occupation”, “massacre”, “martyr”, “Kurdistan”, “vicious attack”.
The newspaper’s staff was brought to court in the Çağlayan Courthouse in Istanbul on April 10, 2018, after seven days in detention.
Pınar Tarlak was released, pending trial, after a hearing on September 12, 2018.
During a hearing on February 21, 2019, the prosecutor requested the files of defendants Davut Uçar, Ersin Çaksu, Fırat Benli, Günay Aksoy, Önder Elaldı, Yılmaz Yıldız be separated.
At a following hearing on April 10, 2019, İshak Yasul and Hicran Urun were released under judicial control, with a travel ban. İhsan Yaşar, Mehmet Ali Çelebi, and Reyhan Hacıoğlu remain in detention, and have their next hearing set for June 28, 2019.
Read related article here.
A retrial began on February 15, 2022 after the İstanbul Regional Court of Appeals had overturned the verdict on the defendants in March 2021.