Kadri Gürsel's defence: I warned the AKP when FETO’s name was still the ‘Brotherhood’

Gürsel said in his defence, ‘The operation against Cumhuriyet was used as an opportunity for me, too, to be detained and brought into a position in which I could not write and speak and, in short, could not conduct journalism and this idea occurred to certain people at the last minute.’
Yayınlanma tarihi: 25 Temmuz 2017 Salı, 14:08

Our columnist Kadri Gürsel, who has been in detention for 267 days and is making his first appearance before a judge, rejected the accusation that he was adjunctive to the FETO (Fethullah Gülen Terrorist Organisation) in the defence he mounted, and, stating that he had made warnings when FETO was still referred to by the name ‘the Brotherhood,’ said, ‘I uncovered the de facto coalition partnership that the current ruling party maintained with this group and foresaw that this inauspicious cooperation would harm the country. I stated through various means that the AKP, too, might fall victim to this alliance as a result of the conspiracies that the brotherhood, as it was then known, was hatching thanks to the power and support it obtained from the rulership. A great many of my articles, speeches and comments on TV programmes prove this. Everything that I foresaw happened. Everything is in the archives.’
Here is the full text of Kadri Gürsel’s defence:
In the indictment, I stand charged with, ‘While not Being a Member of an Armed Terrorist Organisation, Aiding an Organisation.’ The prosecution premises this charge on three basic accusations.
The first is that I have communications records with 92 suspects who are ByLock users and 21 people who under investigation for connections with the FETO/PDY armed terrorist organisation.
The second is that I am Cumhuriyet newspaper’s Editorial Consultant and have first-degree signature authorisation at Yenigün Haber Ajansı Basın ve Yayıncılık A.Ş., and am responsible for the radical change in editorial policy that allegedly took place at Cumhuriyet and for publishing in a manner that serves the purposes of the FETO/PDY and PKK/KCK organisations.
The third is my endeavour, by penning the column entitled, ‘Erdoğan Wants to be our Father’ published in Cumhuriyet on 12 July 2016, to ‘create the impression that there is an authoritarian regime in Turkey by openly and directly targeting the person of the President.’
These assertions are entirely untruthful.
Were it necessary to begin with the first of these, the assertion that I had a communications record with suspects 92 of whom are ByLock users and 21 of whom are under investigation for FETO/PDY links (in fact, as one person - Murat Kurnaz – is on both lists this number is actually 20) is unfounded. The unfounded nature of the accusation becomes apparent on examination of the HTS records that those who raise it themselves rely on by way of source. For, the alleged communications with 102 of the total of 112 alleged people consists entirely of unilateral SMS (85) and/or unilateral calls (17).
Since I did not reply to any of the SMSs reaching me, it cannot be asserted that I had any communications record with these people. If anything, it would be possible to speak of the opposite, that is simply of their efforts to enter into communications with me. And these efforts remained fruitless. In other words, these people have communications records with me, but I have no communications record with them.
Indeed, virtually all these SMSs were sent between the dates of 27 July 2014 and 1 August 2014. The number of SMSs over these five days was around 150. Of these 112 people with whom I am alleged to have been in communication, 85 constitute people who sent me one-off messages one after the other and to whom I did not reply. The reason for this heavy traffic must have been the organising by brotherhood members of a media campaign aimed at journalists in opposition to the first large wave of detentions targeting the FETO formation in the police force at that time. I think the reason for the attempts to establish communications with me over these five days was that I am an independent and critical journalist. But, it is palpable that the efforts to obtain support from me remained fruitless.
Essentially, the accusation of ‘communications’ that the prosecution makes by including in its calculations these SMSs and unilateral calls during which, if I answered them at all, I spoke briefly and hung up is contrary to reason and logic. It has no validity. Were the contrary to be accepted, it would be necessary to presume that it would be possible for FETO members to bring a person into communication with them simply by sending an SMS, and this situation would turn the country’s entire citizenry into suspects or defendants.
I must immediately state that, of the 112 people with whom it is alleged in the indictment that I have a communications record, I only had interactional calls with eight of them. Five of these eight people are ByLock users. These five people are undoubtedly people to whom I spoke out of professional motives to do with my activities as a columnist and in legitimate dealings.
Of course, in 2015 in which the said interactional communications were established, it was impossible for me to know or guess that these people were users of the ByLock encrypted communications system that would be adduced as the chief evidence of FETO membership following the 15 July 2016 coup attempt.
It should also not be forgotten that journalists are curious people and may speak to anybody. The duty of a journalist who takes their profession seriously, especially if they write a column, is to bring breadth and variety to the way the country’s important issues are contemplated and then, having made their own comparison, supply the reader with sound, holistic and consistent perspectives. And, this activity cannot be regarded as being a crime and penalised in any democracy. The name of this is journalism and journalism is not a crime.
In consequence, the conclusion that there had been ‘communications’ premised on the unfounded assertion that I had communications records with a total of 112 people who are ByLock users and FETO/PDY suspects is incomprehensible and unconscionable. This unfounded allegation, which is based on the analysis report dated 25.03.2017 compiled by Istanbul Province Police Directorate Anti-Smuggling and Organised Crimes Department Directorate, was leaked by newspapers close to the ruling party one day before the indictment against us was submitted to the court and made accessible to my lawyers. Hence, there was a manifest wish to give credence to the fake news about me that, ‘I was in contact with 112 ByLock users and FETO/PDY suspects.’
If the prosecution, seeing no need to examine the HTS records into me, has not concluded that 95 per cent of the communications records allegedly with 112 people who are ByLock users and FETO/PDY suspects were SMSs and/or unilateral calls that were sent to me on a one-off basis and went unreplied to and that it is thus impossible for these to be deemed to be ‘communications records’, it has derelicted its duty.
If the prosecution has included this allegation in the indictment in the knowledge that it is unfounded, it has abused its position.
Secondly, the prosecution accuses me of being responsible for the radical change in editorial policy that allegedly took place at Cumhuriyet and for publishing in a manner that serves the purposes of the FETO/PDY and PKK/KCK organisations.
In support of this charge that it raises against me, the prosecution relies on my being Cumhuriyet newspaper’s ‘Editorial Consultant’. The second point that it relies on is an assertion along the lines that, ‘I have first-degree signature authorisation at Yenigün Haber Ajansı Basın ve Yayıncılık A.Ş.,’ which publishes Cumhuriyet newspaper.
These charges are devoid of foundation of any kind. I have never had first-degree signature authorisation at the Yenigün News Agency. Despite this, I have an idea as to how this fabrication may have come about so as to find inclusion in the indictment.
Included in binder number seven of the file of the case against us is the ‘Investigation Document Comstituting a Case Report’ that Istanbul Police Directorate sent under number 47909374.66817(63044) 38081 dated 4 November 2016 to Istanbul Republic Chief Proseuction Press Crimes Investigation Office.
In this case report, I am indicated to ‘have first-degree signature authorisation at Yenigün Haber Ajansı Basın ve Yayıncılık A.Ş.’ It did not stop here, and I was also proclaimed to be ‘Cumhuriyet Foundation Executive Board Chair’. It is actually a fact in the public domain that the Foundation Chair is Orhan ERİNÇ.
The existence of these two blatant errors over my position and duties at Cumhuriyet in the police case report cannot be brushed off as ‘innocent’ absent-mindedness. What is involved is the ill intent to bring about my detention by connecting me with a foundation executive and company that it is wished to criminalise. Evidence was not fabricated, either, but information available in the public domain was flagrantly distorted with an audicity that leaves one dumbfounded and a so-called fact was thus invented to facilitate my detaining.
Was this done to me alone? No. In the case report, apart from me, Akın Atalay, Bülent Utku and Önder Çelik are also stated to be ‘Cumhuriyet Foundation Executive Board Chair’. This case report ends with the following pronouncements: ‘It has been ascertained that FETO/PDY committed the offence of casting aspersions that led to a number of people being detained and prosecuted, and took part in various acts that led to many citizens suffering unjustice.’
It is most ironic for these to be the final sentences of a case report filled with aspersions, because there is no other content referring to me in this case report apart from aspersions that have led to me suffering injustice through causing me to be detained, in the very way described in these final sentences.
It is pleasing that the prosecution has seen that I am not not the Cumhuriyet Foundation Executive Board Chair and has not included this aspersion by the police in the indictment it has drafted.
On the other hand, was the ‘Yenigün News Agency Authorised Signatory List’ assertion on page 109 of the seventh binder in which the said case report was contained seen and taken into consideration by the prosecution?
In the investigation report of 24.08.2016 of the Financial Crimes Investigation Board, my name does not appear among those determined to have served on the Board of Directors of Yenigün Haber Ajansı Basın ve Yayıncılık A.Ş. between the dates of 01.01.2013 and 18.08.2016. I am consequently neither one of the company’s first-degree, nor one of its second-degree authorised signatories.
Moreover, I have had absolutely no duty, and have consequently not had first-degree signature authorisation, at Yenigün Haber Ajansı Basın ve Yayıncılık A.Ş. following the ending date of the Financial Crimes Investigation Board report of 18.08.2016. This fact has been established through the documents in the submission applying for my release that my lawyers lodged on 15.05.2017 prior to the detention examination of 18.05.2017.
Another point that is raised in asserting my responsibility for the radical change in editorial policy that allegedly took place at Cumhuriyet and for publishing in a manner that serves the purposes of the FETO/PDY and PKK/KCK organisations is my position as the paper’s ‘Editorial Consultant’.
It defies reason and logic to establish any kind of relationship between my serving as editorial consultant and the alleged change in the newspaper’s editorial policy, and this is an exercise in futility. This is so for the following two reasons.
First, the post of Editorial Consultant that I managed to carry out for a total of 34 days starting on 27 September 2016 until 31 October 2016 when I was arrested was not a function that bestowed decision-making and executive powers over the paper’s publishing policy. The editorial consultant, as its name implies, is a person whose opinion is consulted or who expresses an opinion where required. The body that decides whether to adopt his or her proposals, on the other hand, is the newspaper’s management.
As to the second reason, this relates to the answer to the question of when and how an Editorial Consultant like me who started on 27 September 2016 and was only able to last in his post for 34 days brought about the radical change in editorial policy at Cumhuriyet.
It is asserted in the indictment that, ‘Cumhuriyet newspaper was virtually taken over by the FETO/PDY armed terrorist organisation particularly from 2013 onward.’ The paper’s editorial policy is alleged to have undergone change over the past three years. If so, how is it possible for me to have been party to the ‘crime of changing editorial policy?’
I cannot have committed this so-called crime in my column that appeared twice a week starting some five and a half monthis ago on 10 May 2016, because a columnist only expresses their own views in their column and these views cannot be deemed to be binding on the newspaper.
For me, as an Editorial Consultant having no decision-making and executive powers for the period of 34 days prior to my arrest on 31 October 2016, to have been party to the so-called ‘crime of changing editorial policy’ that is alleged to have lasted for the past three years is an assertion that defies reason.
So, for this very reason, if the prosecution has included in the indictment that I have first-degree signature authorisation at theYenigün News Agency and I changed Cumhuriyet newspaper’s editorial policy on the grounds that I was a columnist at Cumhuriyet newspaper for five months and was editorial consultant for the final one month and without seeing and examing the Financial Crimes Investigation Board’s report to the effect that I was not an authorised signatory at Yenigün News Agency and relying purely on the police case report, it has blatantly derelicted its duty.
If the contrary applies, it has blatantly abused its position
The third charge levelled against me is my having written an article entitled ‘Erdoğan Wants to be our Father’ in Cumhuriyet newspaper.
In this article of mine that was published on 12 July 2016, I criticised and lampooned President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s political culture and mentality that I found to be excessively opressive that was reflected in his opposition to cigarettes. The prosecution, stressing that I ‘openly and directly targetted the person of the President,’ is endeavouring to create a so-called crime out of this.
I must state outright that there is no such crime in Turkey as ‘openly and directly targeting the person of the President.’ On the contrary, a good journalist openly and directly targets the object of their criticism. When this object is the President’s actions and words, they voice their criticism openly and directly so that it may be cogently understood. Furthermore, in democracies there can neither be a law that the President is exempted from criticism, nor can a convention be spoken of whereby, if the President is to be critised, this is to be done in a concealed and indirect manner.
I also stand charged in connection with this article of, ‘endeavouring to create the impression that there is an authoritarian regime in Turkey.’ This is a charge of a political, not legal, nature. A journalist’s business is not to create impressions, but to assess facts in an objective manner. If a journalist expresses an opinion, they back this up with facts. My article that has given rise to the accusations contains an opinion that is backed up with facts and has been verified.
I must immediately point out that, even though I have remained distant from and been critical of the current ruling party since I started writing columns in 2007, there has neither been a complaint nor has legal action been brought over my articles and comments until now.
I am, moreover, a columnist who has for years been warning quite explicitly of the regime’s authoritarianism in all forums. I have always based this opinion of mine on facts. The date on which my article entitled ‘We are on the road to an elected autocratic regime’ was published in Milliyet was 2009. There have been articles of mine following this date in which I have warned through various channels that the regime was veering towards authoritarianism.
My prediction has unfortunately come true. Otherwise, I would not be on trial under detention for thought crimes and I would not have been presented with the opportunity to rebut the hollow and unfounded charges before a court having spent nine months in jail
If now my pre-trial detention has been turned into a punishment and if my criticisms and warnings about authoritarianism have been included among the grounds for this detention, this situation just shows how justified and well-placed my views were.
The prosecution, in stressing that my article ‘Erdoğan Wants to be our Father’ was, as it puts it, published ‘on 12 July 2016 three days prior to the coup,’ is virtually accusing me. How can I be accused of this coincidence? This is impossible.
There is only one reason for this article coming three days before the 15 July coup attempt, and this is in the text, anyhow. The event that inspired me to pen the article was President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan asking for and taking the packet of cigarettes that Bulgarian Foreign Minister Daniel Mitov had about his person in Warsaw where the NATO summit was held on 9 July 2016. That is, it was President Erdoğan taking the packet of cigarettes about the Bulgarian minister, whom he had seen smoking in foyer of the Warsaw summit, and asking for a promise that he had given up smoking, not that my penning this article would come three days before the coup attempt. Everybody with media literacy would, on reading my article that gave rise to the charge, realise that the article derived its immediate relevance from the taking of the Bulgarian minister’s packet of cigarettes.
Unfortunately, the prosecution was unable to spot this simple fact as it did not approach my article from within objective criteria, but in the quest to invent a fact to keep me in prison.
Just as all these charges raised against me are devoid of reason and logic, they also fall outside any kind of legal and conscientious criteria. They are simply charges that create injustice.
It is also asserted that there are Financial Crimes Investigation Board reports about me. This is untruthful. If the case file is examined, it will be see that my name is not included in the Financial Crimes Investigation Board reports.
I have additionally been connected in a strange way with the assertion that ‘the Cumhuriyet Foundation Executive Board was ussurped through underhand means.’ This is fiction.
When the executive board change underlying the allegation took place, I was serving as a columnist at Milliyet Newspaper. I can have absolutely no connection with the change in the executive board. This runs contrary to the nature of the affair.
And, finally, the prosecution, having, as it puts it, ‘assessed as a whole’ the unfounded, untruthful, irrational, illogical and unlawful charges raised against me, it reaches the opinion that I have committed the crime of ‘While not being a member of a terrorist organisation, assisting a terrorist organisation.’
I, on the other hand, have through this statement proven one by one that the charges the prosecution is leveling against me are wholly unfounded and untruthful.
If, today, I make statement before you in the capacity of ‘accused’, the reason for this is my inclusion at the last moment, for me to be silenced and isolated, in the political operation launched against Cumhuriyet newspaper aimed at closing it.
Forces aligned to the ruling party have, ever since 2011, exercised their influence over media bosses to try to prevent me from appearing on TV programmes and writing articles in the run-up to every election.
The means they came up with for silencing me at a time in the autumn of 2016 when Turkey was moving in the direction of a Constitutional Referndum was to bring about my detention, because, this time, I was writing feely on an independent newspaper like Cumhuriyet and it was impossible for them to impose their will on this paper.
Examination of the case file will reveal that prosecutor Murat İnam, himself undergoing prosecution as a FETO suspet with two life sentences sought against him in one of the conspiracy trials, had an apprehension and arrest order issued on 30 October 2016 against all the suspects, apart from me. As to the arrest order against me, it was issued on 31 October 2016, after the arrest of my other colleagues had been announced and the operation against Cumhuriyet had become news.
The operation against Cumhuriyet was used as an opportunity for me, too, to be detained and brought into a position in which I could not write and speak and, in short, could not conduct journalism and this idea occurred to certain people at the last minute.
I find myself here before you, not because, while not being a member of a terrorist organisation, I knowingly and willingly aided a terrorist organisation, but because I am an independent, investigative and critical journalist, because I make no compromises over journalism and insist on living up to the demands of my profession.
I have been punished with long-term detention for having succeeded in remaining a journalist in the face of all the ruling party’s intimidation and threats.
You cannot find a single piece of true evidence to support the charge against me of ‘knowingly and willingly aiding a terrorist organisation,’ because there are no acts, statements or artices of mine that constitute such evidence. On the contrary, I have approached the said organisation for my entire career with maximum suspicion and have been sharply critical of it. When FETO’s name was still the ‘Brotherhood’ and this brotherhood was working together with the AKP government, my view of this structure was negative in a categorical way and this view of mine has not changed at all.
I uncovered the de facto coalition partnership that the current ruling party maintained with this group and foresaw that this inauspicious cooperation would harm the country. I stated through various means that the AKP, too, might fall victim to this alliance as a result of the conspiracies that the brotherhood, as it was then known, was hatching thanks to the power and support it obtained from the rulership. A great many of my articles, speeches and comments on TV programmes prove this.
Everything that I foresaw happened. Everything is in the archives.
The charges against me have been transported into a surreal dimension through primitive lies, misrepresentations and distortions, with the need not even felt to rely on false evidence.
Meanwhile, prior to voicing these truths in front of a court bench, my detention in Silivri Prison has lasted for nine months. Punishment through lengthy detention is in itself an instance of lawlessness and a breach of human rights.
Taking account of the points I have submitted above, I respectfully submit and request that a decision be passed to acquit me.

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Cumhuriyet Arşivi Gazete Kupürlerinde:

Orhan Erinç, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, Fethullah Gülen