Ankara Republic Chief Prosecution has filed proceedings seeking jail terms of from one year to three years against Cumhuriyet reporter Kemal Göktaş, former Cumhuriyet Editor-in-Chief Can Dündar, Evrensel newspaper Editor-in-Chief Fatih Polat and Evrensel reporters Cem Gurbetoğlu and Tamer Arda Erşin for coverage of the inspectorate’s report into the failure for certain police officers to give consideration prior to the 10 October station massacre of intelligence reports giving advance news of the massacre. In the indictment, filed following the passage of one and a half years since the news report over which the charges are filed, it is noteworthy that the massacre in which 101 people lost their lives and for which ISIS claimed responsibility is referred to as the “explosion incident”. The prosecution has also failed to mention that the reports were written on the basis of inspectors’ reports. In the proceedings that have been filed despite the elapsing of the four-month time limit for bringing action in the Press Law, the bringing of the proceedings against the two papers’ editors-in-chief instead of the responsible editors has been justified by saying, “Reports cannot be published without their knowledge.” Despite custodial sentences of up to three years being sought for the journalists, permission was not given for the prosecution of the police officers who were deemed by police inspectors to have been responsible.
They targeted them
It is stated in the indictment that, “Following the explosion incident that took place” on 10 October 2015 in front of Ankara station, a news report was carried on the evrensel.net website and in Cumhuriyet newspaper dated 13-14 April 2016 to the effect that, “Prior to the occurrence of this incident, intelligence information that a suicide bombing of this nature might take place in Ankara was conveyed to Ankara Province Police Directorate and, despite this, precautions were not taken by officials.” In the indictment, in which it is stated that in the reports in question the names and units in which they serve of police officers on duty at the Ankara Province Police Directorate and the Counterterrorism Branch were also revealed, it is noted that Cumhuriyet reporter Kemal Göktaş, Evrensel newspaper Editor-in-Chief Fatih Polat and Evrensel reporters Cem Gurbetoğlu and Tamer Arda Erşin, whose statements were taken as part of the investigation, had said, “They were exercising their right to report the news and had no such intent as to target anybody.”
Participation through approval
In the indictment, in which it is stated that, as the taking of the statement of Can Dündar, who was Cumhuriyet newspaper’sEditor-in-Chief on the date the report was made, had not been possible, an order for his apprehension had been issued, it was alleged that the Cumhuriyet and Evrensel reporters committed the offence provided for in Article 6/1 of the Anti-Terrorism Law by disclosing the identity of staff engaged in combatting terrorism. Prosecutor Ali İhsan Akdoğan tried to account for the charges against Dündar and Polat even though they were not the responsible editors as follows: “It has been ascertained that the suspects Fatih Polat and Can Dündar, who were responsible for the publication of the reports in question and without whose knowledge there is no possibility of these reports having been published, participated in the offence.” The indictment has been accepted by Ankara Serious Crime Court No 2.