Our reporter Ahmet Şık has been in detention for 400 days for his news reports and posts, compared to the 461 days our Editor-in-Chief Murat Sabuncu and Executive Board Chair Akın Atalay have spent in detention. With prisons filling with journalists, politicians and those who voice dissent during the state of emergency period which serves as a tool for furthering the violation of freedom of thought and expression, jihadists, the “big brothers” of the Gülen brotherhood and child murderer police officers, one by one, walk free. Ahmet Şık was detained on 30 December 2016 on the charge of making FETO and PKK/KCK propaganda with his news reports and social media posts cited as grounds. Five years before this detention, in 2011, thanks to collaboration by members of the judiciary and police officials who are now on the run or in detention, Şık was also detained for having exposed the police leg of the Gülenist formation at a time when the AKP government was not yet an enemy of the Gülen brotherhood. Under the wave of detentions that came in the wake of the coup attempt, 154 journalists and more than 5,000 Kurdish politicians are in jail. As against this, Islamic State trial defendants, police officers who have crushed children with armoured vehicles and defendants who have insulted Atatürk, one by one, walk free. This shows clearly that the detention measure is being used during the state of emergency to silence dissenting voices and block the freedom of thought and expression. Here are some of the people who have been released despite their culpability in the trials they are undergoing and the custodial sentences sought against them:
A bomb was found at his home – this did not suffice
-Istanbul Serious Crime Court No 27, which is hearing the Islamic State trial in which 57 defendants, 51 of them in pretrial detention, including the assailant of Uzbek origin Abdulkadir Masharipov who killed 39 people and injured 79 at the place of entertainment named Reina on the New Year’s Eve before last, are being prosecuted, released seven defendants including people who say they believe in jihadist war. In conversations in jihadist defendant Celil Çelik’s case file, he speaks of assisting those who wanted to go to the Islamic State area and one of his children losing his life during bombardment in the area in which Islamic State wielded influence. The court ordering release, Istanbul Serious Crime Court No 27, is at the same time hearing the trial in which our newspaper’s columnists and managers are being prosecuted.
-N.T., held in detention pending trial charged with being Islamic State’s “Diyarbakır emir”, was released on 20 June 2017 in the proceedings being held before Diyarbakır Serious Crime Court No 5. N.T., following his subsequent re-detention on strong suspicion of guilt, was released once more on 28 December 2017.
-In the trial being held at Serious Crime Court No 2 in Ankara’s Sincan West Judicial Complex into the attack on the HDP’s 5 June 2015 Diyarbakır rally, Burhan Gök, who was apprehended along with five people, including Ibrahim El Bakraoui who staged the attack on the airport in Brussels, was released at the 25 July 2017 hearing. Absolutely no release conditions were applied to Gök, either.
-In the Islamic State trial being held at Gaziantep Serious Crime Court No 8, 39 of the 60 defendants were released on 28 July 2017. Among those released was Nesibe Durmaz, wife of Yunus Durmaz, known to have been the planner of the Suruç attack in which 34 people lost their lives and that at Ankara Station on 10 October in which 102 people were killed and who blew himself up as a suicide bomber.
-Yunus Durmaz’s sister Gamze Demir was also apprehended on 11 August 2016. Twenty kilos of TNT explosive, one suicide bomber’s vest ready for use containing two explosive charges, three hand grenades, one hand-made bomb, one Glock-brand pistol, 385 cartridges, seven empty suicide bomber’s vests, a large quantity of materials used for making home-made explosives, five fuses and one mechanism and interrupter for igniting suicide bombs were seized at the house where Demir was apprehended. Demir was released at the 18 July 2017 hearing at Gaziantep Serious Crime Court No 2.
-Twelve people in detention pending trial at Istanbul Serious Crime Court No 13 for having staked out parliament, AKP provincial headquarters and Zeynebiye Mosque in Halkalı and having given lessons in “rejecting the Republic of Turkey, its courts and military service and Atatürk” to children in schools in Sultanbeyli in line with Islamic State’s instructions were released on 14 June 2017.
-Twelve of sixteen people in detention pending trial at Diyarbakır Serious Crime Court No 5 into an Islamic State cell operation which cost the lives of two police officers, were released on 25 October 2016, one of them on 17 January 2017 and the remaining three on 20 June.
Coupist “big brothers” released
-On 26 July 2017, Istanbul Serious Crime Court No 27 released a relative who concealed Dursun Ali Gündoğdu, one of the judges in the Ergenekon trial who secured his release by turning informer, at his home. Cited as grounds for the release were, “It has been ascertained that there is no outstanding matter that would warrant continuation of the detention measure.”
-One of the ex-prosecutors who was responsible for CHP parliamentarian İlhan Cihaner being prosecuted in the Ergenekon trial, Rasim Karakullukçu, was acquitted and released by Samsun Serious Crime Court No 2 on 19 September 2017.
-The civil servant named A.D., who was expelled from his post in the Development Bank as part of the investigation into the Fethullahist Terrorist Organisation (FETO), was released having turned informer at the 16 October hearing of the trial pending which he was in detention at Ankara Serious Crime Court No 23. A.D. confessed in his statement to having used ByLock, attended chats and rendered assistance.
-Ex-prosecutor Turhan Turunç, in detention pending trial at Istanbul Serious Crime Court No 14, turned informer at the 19 July 2017 hearing, said that he had used ByLock and was released.
-Deputy enforcement officer Zafer C. and chief clerk Emrah K. at Finike Judicial Complex, detained on charges of setting up, being members of and running an armed terrorist organisation and being ByLock users, were released at the first hearing they were brought to on 2 March 2017. Zafer C. confessed to having attended religious chats and to ByLock having been loaded onto his phone by Ali Berk K. to prevent interception.
Police officer Adem Ü., in detention pending trial at Adana Serious Crime Court No 11, was released at the first hearing he was brought to on 19 June 2017. He said in his statement, “I downloaded and used the ByLock program. Initially, while working at the rapid reaction force in Antalya in 2005, I stayed in a house belonging to this formation. We read Fethullah Gülen’s books at this house. I was then transferred to Kahramanmaraş Elbistan. I also stayed at a Gülenist house there. I carried out a kind of big brother function at that house.”
-Former Trabzon Chief Prosecutor, in detention pending trial for FETO membership, was released on turning informer at the hearing held on 24 January 2018 at Samsun Serious Crime Court No 2. In his statement, Kul spoke of the chat meetings he attended with organisation member judges and prosecutors and the organisation’s formations in the provinces where he had served.
“Untouchable police officers”
Pretrial releases are frequently encountered in cases into deaths caused by the police. Alongside the pretrial release of the defendant police officer in the trial over Berkin Elvan, who lost his life as the result of a gas canister fired by the police hitting his head during the Gezi Park protests, the Dilek Doğan and Uğur Kurt trials are examples of such trials that end without conviction or in fines.
-Detained police officer Ö.Y., who entered a house with an armoured vehicle on 4 May 2017 in Şırnak’s Silopi sub-province and caused the death of two children, was released at the first hearing held on 17 October 2017.
-Police officers who were under prosecution charged with killing Kemal Kurkut during celebrations on Newroz day in Diyarbakır on 21 March 2017 on the grounds that he was a “suicide bomber” have been on release pending trial since the investigation stage.
They have released knifers of women and abusers of children
- Ümit K., who injured Fatma Akar in Edirne’s Keşan sub-province by knifing her in the throat, arm and back was released on conditions at his first court appearance on 18 October 2017.
-Of 21 people in detention pending trial until the third hearing on charges of subjecting a 14-year-old girl to systematic sexual abuse at Diyarbakır Serious Crime Court No 2, twelve were initially released. Included among these people is Mehmet Kara, ex-AKP Youth Section Chair in Kulp. At the latest hearing on 21 September 2017, nine defendants were released.
-The defendants named İsmail S. and Emre G. were in detention pending trial at Bolu Serious Crime Court for abusing the girl named K.Ö. Emre G. voiced his contrition at the ruling hearing of the trial dated 5 October 2017. The court ordered his release for good behaviour.
- E.K., who staged an actual attack on Asena Melisa Sağlam on 14 June 2017 in Pendik on the pretext that she was wearing shorts was sentenced to three years and four months’ imprisonment with time off for good behaviour at the hearing of the trial pending which he was in detention at Istanbul Anatolian Penal Court of First Instance No 27 and was released.
Insulting Atatürk permitted
- Süleyman Yeşilyurt, who was detained on 12 May 2017 charged with “publicly insulting Atatürk’s memory” and “publicly inciting the people to hatred and enmity” due to comments he made about Atatürk on the programme named Deep History on the TVNET TV station known for its closeness to ruling political circles, was released at the first hearing he was brought to on 1 June 2017 at Bakırköy Penal Court of First Instance No 35.
Over 400 days in captivity