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Murat Sabuncu and Ahmet Şık released at sixth hearing of the Cumhuriyet trial; Akın Atalay remains in detention

The trial in which charges are raised over our columnists and managers’ editorial policy was heard in the courtroom situated opposite Silivri Prison. At the end of the hearing at which witnesses were heard, the prosecutor came out in favour of extension of the detained defendants’ detention. The bench ordered the release of Editor-in-Chief Murat Sabuncu and reporter Ahmet Şık and the extension of Executive Board Chair Akın Atalay's detention. The next hearing will be held on Friday 16 March.
Yayınlanma tarihi: 09 Mart 2018 Cuma, 11:23

[Haber görseli]

The sixth hearing of the trial against our newspaper’s managers, columnists, reporters and lawyers, three of whom are in pretrial detention, on charges of “committing crimes, while not being members of terrorist organisations, on behalf of organisations and against the constitutional order” is being heard today. It had been announced that the trial, in which Cumhuriyet Foundation Executive Board Chair Akın Atalay, Cumhuriyet Newspaper Editor-in-Chief Murat Sabuncu and our reporter Ahmet Şık are in pretrial detention, would start at 10.00 hours. However, the hearing did not start at the appointed time. Those heading to Silivri to monitor the hearing encountered long tailbacks of traffic. The cause of this tailback was said to be the conducting of background searches into those coming to monitor the hearing. Dozens of people attempted to reach the compound on foot.


10.40- The pretrial detainees Cumhuriyet Foundation Executive Board Chair Akın Atalay, Cumhuriyet Newspaper Editor-in-Chief Murat Sabuncu and our reporter Ahmet Şık were brought into the courtroom. Spectators are being admitted to the courtroom.

10:44- Journalists are being placed in the most remote corner of the courtroom even though the benches close to their colleagues on trial are empty. Journalists are objecting, saying, “We cannot see the court bench, those on trial, the witnesses or anybody. Why are gendarmerie officials and not journalists sitting on the empty benches?” The journalists have forwarded their request for their places to be changed to the court bench.

10.41- The attempt was made to arrest Confederation of Progressive Trade Unions General Chair, Kani Beko, because he was holding Cumhuriyet newspaper. Those nearby him prevented this. A group including CHP MPs Sezgin Tanrıkulu and Utku Çakırözer, Confederation of Progressive Trade Unions General Chair Kani Beko and General Secretary Arzu Çerkezoğlu and Confederation of Progressive Trade Unions Press Trade Union Chair and Cumhuriyet employee Faruk Eren wanted to make a press statement prior to the hearing. The police denied permission to the group that wanted to make a press statement holding Cumhuriyet newspaper. There was an attempt to arrest Kani Beko, who wanted to make a statement despite the police blocking this, and this attempt was thwarted by the CHP people.

11.12- The court bench has taken its place in the courtroom and the hearing has started.

11.15- Mehmet Faraç, Leyla Tavşanoğlu and Namık Kemal Boya are present in the courtroom to be heard as witnesses. Kemal Aytaç, Attorney-at-Law, noting that many lawyers were standing, applied for them to be admitted to the empty seats.

11.16- Leyla Han Tüzel, Attorney-at-Law: “It said in the text the court drafted yesterday that a limit of three lawyers would be imposed and the gendarmerie counted us on entry on this basis. We wish you to reverse this decision because a limit of three lawyers is not fitting for this trial.”

11.22- Presiding Judge Abdurrahman Orkun Dağ asked the prosecutor for a recommendation on Leyla Han Tüzel, Attorney-at-Law’s application for the limit of three lawyers to be lifted because it was contrary to the right to a fair trial. The prosecutor then expressed the opinion that the application for the limit on lawyers to be lifted be dismissed. Presiding Judge Dağ said, “The decree with the force of law is express on the matter of limiting lawyers. Application dismissed.”

11.24- In response to lawyer Tüzel’s application that, since the non-detained defendants were very far away and exchanges of opinions were not possible, they be brought closer, the Presiding Judge summoned the non-detained defendants forward and brought the press among the lawyers.

11.29- The awaited experts’ report on Emre İper and Ahmet Kemal Aydoğdu had arrived and was read by the court. The report contains the information that İper had no ByLock record.

11.32- Former Cumhuriyet newspaper columnist Mehmet Faraç took the stand to be heard as a witness.

11.34- Mehmut Faraç: I wish to comment on the extrajudicial sentences in some matters. I did not apply to be a witness. I came at the instruction of the Republic Prosecutor. The reason I am a witness is the articles I wrote about Cumhuriyet on the paper I work for. With regard to this, certain circles have made groundless accusations as if I had complained about Cumhuriyet. I have never complained about anybody in my entire life. I wrote frankly and there are those who of their own accord deem it to be a tip-off. I joined Cumhuriyet at the age of 18. I was a very young reporter. I undertook duties in a period when the PKK and Hizbullah were at their worst. I worked without social insurance for eleven years and was then brought into head office. I then became a columnist, and then a free writer. There are very few people like me who made their way up from field reporter to newspaper management. I was greatly honoured to be working with İlhan Selçuk. My family supports the Justice Party. Having become acquainted with Cumhuriyet, I learnt the importance of Atatürk and how important he was. I learnt journalism at Cumhuriyet, developed in a political sense and was a speaker at home and abroad to help spread Cumhuriyet newspaper among the masses. Following İlhan Selçuk's death, the dangerous process that took place saw me ejected from the newspaper. The best part of our profession is that everything is archived. I was removed from the paper in 2010 at the behest of those who today stand charged in this trial. The only reason for this was an article about Kubilay’s death. At that time, there was a transformation in the CHP, which Atatürk had established, following Baykal. Within this transformation, I was elected with the second highest vote to the CHP Party Assembly thanks to pressure by the party base and me being a Cumhuriyet writer. This situation provoked a reaction from some quarters on Cumhuriyet. They penned questions as to whether a Cumhuriyet employee could become a politician. Some of those who wrote such things have passed away and some are here on trial. At that time six other people who were members of parliament or had duties in the CHP were writing, but the operation was conducted against me alone. There was a strange reaction that I can account for as being jealousy. There was great enthusiasm about somebody like me coming from Urfa and putting his shoulder to the wheel, but then they made life difficult for me in the party.

12.15- Non-detained defendant Turhan Günay addressed the court, “I notice that all witnesses remember Uğur Mumcu and İlhan Selçuk. When Mumcu was killed, millions marched, but do they know the circulation at that time? It was 19,000. I would like to see an end to hiding behind the memory of Mumcu ve Selçuk.”

12.17- Tora Pekin, Attorney-at-Law addressed the court: “We said that hearing Faraç would be futile but this was your preference. You have seen, anyhow. I return the disgraceful insinuations he has made about our newspaper managers and our colleagues. This testimony is a disgrace.” Asks Faraç: “Who was on the management when your post at Cumhuriyet ended?” Faraç: “İbrahim Yıldız was Editor-in-Chief, Çetinkaya and Erinç were Chair and Deputy Chair.” Tora Pekin: “He does not want to say himself, but Alev Coşkun was Deputy Chair.”

12.23- Pekin: “Which newspaper were you writing for at the time you made statement?”

Faraç: “Aydınlık.”

Tora Pekin: “What is the source of your knowledge that circulation fell to 8,000? Are you in possession of a document? Or is this rumour?”

Faraç: “The advertising agency.”

Pekin: “I suppose there is no document?”

Faraç: “Do not barge in with nonsensical talk.”

12.24- Tora Pekin: “You spoke of a reporter from Cumhuriyet going to Pennsylvania. Who is this?”

Faraç: “In newspapers and TV programmes, a Cumhuriyet writer resigned because a reporter was sent on the tail of the Confederation of Businessmen and Industrialists of Turkey. Dozens of reports came that Leyla Tavşanoğlu was sent to Pennsylvania.

12.27- Tora Pekin: “Who was the newspaper’s management at that period?”

Faraç: “Shall I say something?”

Pekin: “Do so. Name them. Cumhuriyet newspaper’s Editor-in-Chief at that time was İbrahim Yıldız, who was appointed by Hikmet Çetinkaya, Akın Atalay and Orhan Erinç who are on trial today. What is the extent of the function of editors-in-chief at newspapers? The executive board and foundation are back there. The editor-in-chief cannot say off you go to Pennsylvania. This is a foundation decision.”

12.30- Bahri Belen, Attorney-at-Law: “I have deep respect for everyone, but since you have not given the expected information and replies relating to the event expected in the testimony, I ask directed purely to Mehmet Faraç. Faraç, who was on the management at the time of the newspaper’s bankruptcy proceedings?”

12.36- Faraç: “İlhan Selçuk, Alev Coşkun, Hikmet Çetinkaya and Orhan Erinç.”

Belen: “Was Uğur Mumcu also there?”
Faraç: “I don’t know.”
Belen: “He was.”
Belen: “You said the newspaper’s assets in Cağaloğlu were worth twenty million. Is that right?”
Faraç: “They were worth twenty million all together.”
Belen: “Do you know when Erinç joined the paper and about his friendship with İlhan Selçuk?”
Faraç: “When I came to Istanbul, Erinç was editor-in-chief.”
Belen: “Orhan Erinç was there at the time of İlhan, and was there before you. Do you think İlhan Selçuk lacked the intelligence to realise the intention of Erinç, who you say changed the paper’s entire ideology?
Belen: “You brought legal proceedings against the paper when you were dismissed. How many years did it last?”
Faraç: “Five years.”

12.42- Tora Pekin: “In 2009, you were requested to work in another office totally outside the newspaper building. You went there. Can you explain the reason?”

Faraç: “Such trick questions are not becoming.”
Pekin: “The question is clear. I will simplify it for you. Where was the section you worked in before and where did you work after?”
Pekin: (Presiding judge intervenes.) “If he replies truthfully, you will see, your honour.”
Faraç: “I was the supervisor of the Cumhuriyet national news service. I worked in a very cramped place in the middle of the newspaper. The main newspaper building was stuffed full and there were also two separate buildings. They offered me a room because rooms were in short supply.”
Tora Pekin: “Apart from you, was any other writer sent from the newspaper main building?”
Faraç: “Most of the writers write externally. I don’t know if any were sent. They gave me a room.”
Pekin: “Was İlhan alive when this event took place?”
Pekin: “The reason for my question is he was sent away from the paper. He did not want to reveal the reason. It has no importance as it has nothing to do with the subject matter of the trial, but he was isolated on the paper. İlhan Selçuk was alive at this time. I am saying this as it rebuts all the facts he has created with recourse to İlhan Selçuk.”

12.46- Rahşan Karabulut, Attorney-at-Law, addresses a question to Mehmet Faraç: “You say you looked at the experts’ reports and that the newspaper was made to incur a loss. Where did you look at it?”
Faraç: “I looked in the file.”

12.48- Karabulut: “The Ankara real estate was added to the file two days ago. We only had news of it two days ago. He, on the other hand, says he saw it earlier.”
Faraç: “I was the one who wrote the most troublesome articles on Cumhuriyet. Nobody on Cumhuriyet threatened or censored me.”

12.50- Leyla Tavşanoğlu is heard as a witness.

Presiding Judge: “When did you work on Cumhuriyet, when did you leave and why did you leave and how did you leave?”
Leyla Tavşanoğlu: “Even if there was a difference of opinions, I do not even want to think that any of them had ties with terrorism. I have nothing at all to say about the newspaper’s operations after me. Those on trial are journalists and legal professionals.

Tavşanoğlu: “In 2014, the Journalists and Writers Foundation invited me and other journalists and academics. I got permission from İbrahim Yıldız, who was on the foundation and newspaper management. Gülen was also there. Later, I saw nothing newsworthy so didn’t report on it. The attempt was made for an impression to be created that the newspaper’s ideology had been watered down after Can Dündar came.

12.59- Presiding Judge: “Did Can Dündar encourage you to report in a certain manner?

Tavşanoğlu: “No.”
Pekin: “I most certainly do not think that it is a crime for a journalist to go to Pennsylvania. But, did Orhan Erinç say anything to you about this?”
(Tavşanoğlu did not reply to the Erinç question.)
Pekin: “She has given to understand that he had told her, ‘It would be better not to go.’ When he comes, he will ask himself here.

13.02- Prosecutor: “You said they would go down in history as the team that made Cumhuriyet newspaper go bust? What did you mean?”

Tavşanoğlu: “If you water down the ideology, the circulation will fall. That’s what I meant.”

13.03- Following Leyla Tavşanoğlu, the court proceeded to hear Namık Kemal Boya’s testimony.

13.14- Presiding Judge: “Can you tell us about CUMOK? Oral accounts are more important than reading as testimony is conceived of. We would be grateful if you did not read from a text.”

Boya: “A meeting was held of readers at the end of 1995 and because a far greater number of people than had been expected attended, it was decided to continue the meetings because the Cumhuriyet readership had strength. The aim of the meetings was to support the principles of the Republic defended by the paper, the country’s development and attaining wellbeing, the continuation of the enlightenment revolution and the continuation of secularism and people we saw as being beneficial to the country, and to come out in opposition to what we saw as detrimental. To stand up for its values and criticise under circumstances that we saw as being deficient. It started in 1996 and in 2003, with average newspaper sales falling to 33,000, it was reinvigorated and continued. I spoke to İlhan Selçuk and Alev Coşkun. Everyone came out for supporting the paper. Selçuk said, “What’s your take on this business, 68er?” I was the founding chair of the 68ers’ association. With our efforts, we got the paper’s circulation up to 100,000. In 2009, I also got caught up in the process which started with İlhan Selçuk and Türkan Saylan’s arrest on 21 March 2008. There was a change in the interface with the readership in 2013 under the change in management being spoken of today. The adverts we placed were doctored so we gave up placing adverts, too.

13.21- Boya, being heard as witness: “It caught my attention that in 2014 no report appeared in the paper on the anniversary of 27 May and I emailed everyone. I wrote, ‘We know what we have gained from the advances brought by the 27 May revolution and I found it odd that there is not even a single line.’ There were also certain editorial changes. There were incidents such as news appearing above the masthead or the humble abode report made about Gülen. Even if we had inconsequential discussions about this, there was no solution. Over and above this, we met with the representatives in September 2014 and decided on a boycott, but, given that under these circumstances the workforce would be placed in difficulty, we made it flexible and decided to stage a general boycott apart from Fridays on which Science and Technology is published. Everyone said that the paper they picked up didn’t represent them. There was a similar reaction among all readers. A certain influence was brought to bear with this boycott started in 2014, but change continued with the new managers and new staff. The newspaper was founded in 1923 at M. Kemal Pasha’s order. Those who do not defend the Republic cannot use the name of the Republic.

Presiding Judge: “They say the newspaper’s circulation was 19,000 when Mumcu died.”
Boya: “An astonishing situation.”
Presiding Judge: “Did CUMOK have a consultational right over publications and the editor-in-chief?”

Boya: “When we were going to speak, we spoke to İlhan Selçuk and Alev Coşkun, but there was no such authority. But, especially after 2013, there was no such consultation because they first declared war on CUMOK and then barred our adverts. They told us just to insert adverts about functions and breakfasts, but we are a group that makes our views known.

13.29- Member judge: “It is said that İlhan Selçuk sent Aydın Engin away.”

Boya: “I have heard from several people that he had said, ‘He is not to come through the door’.”


At Namık Kemal Boya’s words, Aydın Engin intervened and addressed the court.
Aydın Engin: “I have been obliged to speak on account of certain unsubstantiated pronouncements that have been made. I imagine your bench has an interest in CUMOK, too; I don’t know why. Before CUMOK even became CUMOK, I was assigned in the period in which its seeds were sown. İlhan brother used to say jocularly that, ‘CUMOK’s founder was Aydın Engin.’ I was not its founder, but I just represented the paper.

Boya says that it was Aydın Engin that İlhan Selçuk sacked from the paper. It is most distressing for a lawyer to give testimony without knowing and saying whatever comes to mind. I served as editor at the time of İlhan Selçuk and left having reached agreement because I didn’t want to work on the inside. In 2002, İlhan Selçuk assembled everyone and said, “We are now going to follow a nationalistic line.” And I said, “I am not a nationalist” and resigned. İlhan brother, far from sacking me, said, ‘You cannot leave without going against me.’ On top of that, following my resignation, also when İlhan brother was in charge of the paper, in 2006 or 2007 he wanted me to come to the paper but I turned him down. It is unacceptable for a witness under oath to speak as his emotions dictate as it this were objective. He calls himself the CUMOK founder but he does not represent the newspaper readership. If he can bring five people here calling themselves readers, this will be newsworthy.”

Turhan Günay also addressed the court, once more in reply to Namık Kemal Boya: “The increased circulation is not down to the friends but books were given two days a week and this is why circulation increased.”

Tora Pekin, Attorney-at-Law: “You can see from the issue of circulation whether eye-witnesses are involved. It is said to have fallen to 8,000 then risen to 100,000 but look at the Press Advertisement Agency. It neither fell to 8,000 nor rose to 100,000. This is the objective data. How can this change through witness testimony? If the charge is 220/7, do you have any testimony that those on trial received instructions from the directors of terrorist organisations? The report, ‘They Call My Humble Abode a Mansion,’ speaks of the visit of a politician to Gülen. Would you say that politician’s name?”

Boya: “I remember the headline of the article but I can’t remember its content.”

Pekin: “That person was Berat Albayrak.”

Bahri Belen, Attorney-at-Law asks:

“You say that the boycott decision in 2014 was taken unanimously. How many people was that decision taken with?”

Boya: “100 people.”

Belen: “How many CUMOK people are there in Turkey?”

Boya: “I don’t know.”

Belen: “When the paper fell to an average of 33,000 in 2003, who was in charge of the paper?”

Boya: “İlhan Selçuk.”

Belen: “You remember the bankruptcy proceedings period the paper went through. Who was on the newspaper management?”

Boya: “I can’t remember if it was İlhan or not.”

Belen; “There’s İlhan, Uğur Mumcu and Cüneyt Arcayürek and later Alev Coşkun was also included.”

Belen: “Do you remember how long those on trial here were on the paper?”

Boya: “I am not the personnel manager and I can’t remember. But I know Akın Atalay from his Tweets full of insults to me.

Belen: “Let me tell you. Akın Atalay started on the newly established newspaper following the bankruptcy proceedings in 1990 and worked with İlhan until his death.

Boya: “İlhan was a good person but got things wrong about people.”

13.50- A recess was taken in the hearing for lunch. The hearing will continue following the recess with two witnesses called by the defence.


15.13- The trial continues with the testimony of the witnesses the defence wished to be heard.
The defence witness Altan Öymen is being heard. “It is known that Cumhuriyet has appeared since 1924 and my father was a journalist. And he was a writer. I can be considered to have been a reader since 1945. After I went into journalism, I wrote articles on Cumhuriyet’s front page starting in the 70’s. I continued to write on the front page until becoming an MP in 71. When the military administration dissolved parliament in 80, I was also one of the banned. I returned to the paper at that time.

15.21- Presiding Judge: “When did you end your relation with Cumhuriyet as a columnist?”

Öymen: “I passed to Milliyet in 81. At that time Mr Nadir [Nadi] was alive. There was no foundation but there were efforts in that directions. The charges brought are incomprehensible. Cumhuriyet is above all attached to Atatürk. A great deal has happened over the time since 1924, but this has not changed. It is also against the misuse of Ataturkism. The comment, “If this is Ataturkism then I am not an Ataturkist” was Nadir Nadi’s. I learnt about many of the organisation’s acts from Cumhuriyet. With Hikmet Çetinkaya's articles and Ahmet Şık's book ‘The Imam’s Army’, Cumhuriyet is above all devoted to democratic values, Ataturkism and secularism.”

15.25- Bahri Belen, Attorney-at-Law: “Have you had the impression that it has news content close to the Gulenists? I am ashamed to ask this, but...”

Altan Öymen: “There is no such thing!”

15.34- Presiding Judge: “Has it ever happened that you thought Cumhuriyet is not the old Cumhuriyet?”

Altan Öymen: “No. We have learnt about many events from Cumhuriyet. It is one of the small number of publications that write what cannot be written due to the rulership’s pressure and even comes to the fore among such publications.”

15.37- Presiding Judge: “As one who knows Kadri Gürsel and has made programmes together with him, do you have any knowledge that Gürsel aided the organisation or praised it on the programme or in his writing?”

Altan Öymen: “I share similar views with Gürsel. I have never had such an impression at any time.”

Member judge: “You have given testimony that you read about the organisation’s acts from H.Çetinkaya and the others’ articles. Was there a change in editorial policy after 2012-13? Did you notice a change in publications that struck you as odd after Dündar came?

15.40- Defence witness Confederation of Progressive Trade Unions General Chair, Kani Beko, comes to the stand.

15.42- Confederation of Progressive Trade Unions General Chair, Kani Beko: “This is a shameful trial. Cumhuriyet is a newspaper that defends this country’s principle of an independent, democratic, law-based state. I most certainly do not accept or understand the FETO charges. A paper that praises FETO cannot make it through the Confederation of Progressive Trade Unions’ door. We have not heard and do not know any such thing about Cumhuriyet. For as long as Cumhuriyet continues to defend these principles, we will also continue to defend Cumhuriyet.”

15.44- Presiding Judge: “There is alleged to have been a change in the paper’s editorial policy after 2014. Have you witnessed this personally?

Kani Beko: “There certainly has been no such thing. I saw that readership of the paper among those I mix with and in my union and my family did not fall but rose. Had it compromised on its traditions Cumhuriyet would not have entered any entity affiliated to the Confederation of Progressive Trade Unions. I also get my children to read Cumhuriyet every weekend without fail.”

15.50- Bahri Belen, Attorney-at-Law: “The Gülen movement was a movement that in that period the government, society, politics and the economy respected. The witness prior to you said that he learnt the first true information about the Gulenists from Çetinkaya and Şık. Did you come across a publication by these writers praising the Gulenists in 2012-2013? As the chair of a confederation of all workers, you are their eyes and ears. Was there such a move or changed attitude with regard particularly to Çetinkaya and Şık?”

Kani Beko: “I do not recognise there being a Cumhuriyet displaying closeness to FETO. I have not even read or known of a sentence praising or indicative of closeness to FETO.”

15.52- Bahri Belen, Attorney-at-Law: Your honour the presiding judge, we can bring a large number of witnesses who are Cumhuriyet readers here, but we have presented figures who are more informative in terms of the matters they represent. Our witness who is abroad today [Rıza Türmen] may have testimony that will shed light on the proceedings. Neither political parties, prosecutors nor judges may have any involvement in a newspaper’s editorial policy. But, we have stated that, if there is anything that constitutes a crime in news reports or publications, this can be addressed within the time period in the press law and at that time prosecutors and judges have duties.”

15.55- Presiding Judge: “Your two witnesses made most valuable comments thanks to their professions and positions. If Mr Rıza [Türkmen] is going to outperform this then that would really be something.”

Bahri Belen, Attorney-at-Law: “I have not discussed with him what he knows. but we think that he has useful information on this subject.”

15.58- Presiding Judge Dağ: “At this stage reached in the proceedings, there remains no further evidence to be gathered. The analysis of the SIM cards belonging to Çetinkaya and Engin, who went to forensic medicine along with our bench has not come. The business of hearing witnesses has ended. There remains little else to do at the stage reached. We thus do not see the information at forensic medicine as being a stage that prolongs the trial. We must now move on to the next stage.

16.05- Presiding Judge: “We can now obtain the prosecution’s final recommendation. A fifteen-minute recess was held in the hearing.

16.28- The hearing restarted.

16.30- Tora Pekin, Attorney-at-Law: “From our point of view, there are two very clear matters.

On examination of the indictment and the experts’ reports placed in the indictment, it appears that a great many European Court of Human Rights’ rulings have been placed in them but they have been divorced entirely from their context. We thus wish former European Court of Human Rights judge Rıza Türmen to give testimony. In your interim ruling, heading the grounds for our detention on this 495th day of detentions is this foundation trial. That trial has not yet attained finality. The regional appeal court has passed judgment such that it is open to cassation and your interim decision number seven also remains open. Even were we to say that a civil case cannot be the subject matter of penal proceedings, you have cited this as grounds for detention. As a second request, we apply for the passing of an interim decision in this matter.

16.36- Presiding Judge: “We will issue our interim decision on both points. We ask the prosecution for its recommendation on the two applications.”

16.37- Prosecutor: “Pursuant to the Code of Criminal Procedure, just as an expert on legal matters may not be engaged, it is inconceivable for them to be heard as a witness. We want the application for the hearing of Rıza Türmen to be dismissed. Since awaiting the case whose finalisation is pending at the Civil Court of First Instance will prolong the proceedings, dismissal of this is requested.”

16.42- Tora Pekin, Attorney-at-Law: “We did not apply for the outcome of the case to be awaited. The learned prosecutor has made a distortion. We simply wanted you to pass a decision about the interim ruling.”

Presiding Judge [Concerning Rıza Türmen being heard]: “The individual is not here. Pursuant to the Code of Criminal Procedure, we have doubts as to the degree his testimony will hold sway in terms of the merits. There are many attorneys here – you, yourself, for example, pretty accomplished - and it does not conform with procedural economy to put everything to one side and for a session to be extended purely for our opinion on the matter of European Court of Human Rights’ rulings and on the matter of the Constitutional Court and the Press Law. Were he here, we would have heard him, but at the stage our proceedings have reached we dismiss the application to hear him so that a whole host of other assessments are not interrupted. We have decided to give up on waiting for the digital evidence that has been unobtainable until today in view of the nature of the trial that has been brought. The trial that has been brought is not a classical organisation membership trial, and these are not relationships that we have hope of finding. We have thus given up on waiting for these documents.”

Ahmet Kemal Aydoğdu’s attorney: “From where we stand, these documents need to be awaited. We apply for them to be awaited.”

16.45- Prosecutor: “We have no request for the investigation to be broadened. It is recommended that the file be served on us to enable a recommendation on the merits with regard to the contents of the file and evidence that has been gathered, and that an order be passed extending the detention of the detained defendants.”

16.49- Fikret İlkiz, Attorney-at-Law: “I would have wished for the witnesses to remain to avoid talking about them behind their backs. But, looking at their testimony, there is a need to make an assessment with regard to Erinç and the other defendants. You, as the court bench, passed ruling at the session dated 24.7.2017 and decided for many individuals to be heard. You had no grounds for hearing them on that date so which grounds are you asking after today? From what I have gathered, since we did not call Faraç and Tavşanoğlu again, you decided to hear them in your ruling number three. Then, as far as I can gather, you noticed Boya and decided to hear him. And CUMOK appeared against us.

17.00- Fikret İlkiz, Attorney-at-Law: “As my colleague has said, Erinç did not explain things to us as Tavşanoğlu put them. Had my client not been unwell today, he would have spoken of them. This means that Erinç stated his views eight months ago on the witnesses heard today. He also submitted the articles that Aydınlık newspaper had written on the same day. You chose and brought in these witnesses. We have only applied for three witnesses. And they have a very explicit designation: defence witnesses. In view of your decision not to hear Türmen, why did the indictment texts consider Onal Aydemir to be an expert? Our colleague is most well-mannered. The defendants, being Cumhuriyet defendants, are well-mannered. But, I am not well-mannered. The allegations in Boya’s testimony must not be taken into consideration. He has given himself the name of CUMOK coordinator and is an Aydınlık columnist. What the meeting quorum is, what the significance of the chair’s vote counting double and failure to count the proxy vote are being debated in the foundation case. However, there was neither unlawfulness in the foundation elections, nor is this a matter for discussion here; it is not a matter for penal proceedings. Also, since his youth, he has been part of organisations in which Doğu Perinçek has been involved. He thinks that he represents Cumhuriyet readers. Are you now going to place before us a recommendation on the merits like scribes? He says they sacked him for his Kubilay article. The reason his employment at Cumhuriyet was terminated was not his article but for dragging a woman reporter by the hair. It has become apparent that the civil case that has been brought is unfounded. Because he kissed the hand of the CHP General Chair in the first period of the Republic to be elected to the CHP. The Kubilay article was after his contract of employment was terminated. In fact, after his contract of employment was terminated, an article by somebody who was not working on Cumhuriyet would not be published. This is what Tora was getting at with the separation of buildings.”

17.04- Fikret İlkiz, Attorney-at-Law: “Over the termination of the contract of employment, neither the Republican manners they or the defendants in this trial have acquired would permit them to say this. In our view, this trial is needlessly occupying a court. The only thing that has brought us here is Alev Coşkun's inability to be elected. At the point we have reached, Alev Coşkun will be convinced that the elections will be repeated until he gets the chance to be elected and when he is sure he will be elected he will come and vote. This is playing with the foundation. It is also inappropriate for this to be cited as grounds for detention.
17.27- Hearing lawyer Kaan Karcılıoğlu: “It is said in the indictment that newspaper sales fell because of editorial policy. It has emerged that this information is based on a material error. Newspaper sales increased by 39% in 2015. The court knows that the Press Advertisement Agency figures cited as the basis for the indictment are wrong. Another piece of information in the indictment is that the foundation was pushed into bankruptcy and dissolution. It has been established that the foundation had receivables of more than 10 million and debts of 600,000 as of 31.10.2016. Cumhuriyet Foundation acted precisely as in the foundation deed.”

17.50- Abbas Yalçın, Attorney-at-Law: “There has been no strong suspicion of guilt since the start of detention. Has the strong suspicion of guilt increased over the intervening 495 days, or has it become non-existent? The strong suspicion that was not even there at the outset is in a desolate place. Taking account of this, we ask that you order our clients’ release.”

17.55- Tora Pekin, Attorney-at-Law: “I don’t want anybody to stay in this Silivri Prison. You will set up a decent prison system and then let those who are guilty come and serve their time. But, Silivri is not such a place. This is a place that threatens social peace and breeds grudges against society in people with its inadequacies. You have issued an interim ruling today and we want you to take this interim ruling into consideration in your subsequent interim rulings.”

17.58- Presiding Judge: “This manner and suggestion is not correct. We are not going to ask you how we are to decide. There is no such thing. We are easing up on many rules at this hearing compared to other comparable hearings. But, it is not on for everyone to come and rebuke the court.”

18.00- Tora Pekin: “This is my job.”

Presiding Judge: “You have a duty to influence us and put evidence in front of our eyes, but you are not entitled to say that we previously passed incorrect decisions and for us not to do it again.”

18.05- Tora Pekin: “There are two mistaken decisions here. The detention order against Emre İper and Turhan Günay.”

Presiding Judge: “Explain this.”

Tora Pekin: “I am going to explain this, anyway. What could be more natural than asking you to look a bit more carefully at your decision? How can I defend the essence of the matter?”

18.10- Presiding Judge: “You by all means discuss the decisions we passed on İper and Günay, but leave the other matters to us.”

18.12- Tora Pekin: “The experts came and said that ByLock was not loaded on Emre İper's phone. This was good luck for us, a release order ensued, and this was good luck for you. Had we discussed the experts’ reports in the context of strong suspicion of guilt, Emre İper would have got out sooner.”

18.20- The evidence gathering and witness hearing stage has been completed. The prosecutor has asked for time for the recommendation on the merits.

18.16- Presiding Judge: “You have at most ten minutes in which you can make a defence. It is up to you how to use it. There is no National Judiciary Informatics System after 19.00.”

18.20- Tora Pekin: “That is least reliable way to do it. Hearings are held here up to midnight.”

18.21- “But there is no National Judiciary Informatics System. Otherwise we would continue.”

18.25- Tora Pekin: “I will say my final words and I will come to a love story. I have made a connection between Oscar Wilde’s Ballad of Reading Gaol and the Ballad of Silivri Gaol. ‘Each man kills the thing he loves.’ We don’t want you to love us we want a fair trial and release.”

18.30- Fikret İlkiz, Attorney-at-Law addressed the court: “There is no need to address the detention situation at great length. But, I have been unable to reply to Murat Sabuncu. Murat Sabuncu told me, ‘Oh, lawyer, whatever they asked me in July, I told them. They cite grounds arising from my position for extending my detention. I am accused of departing from these principles. What do you say about this situation? What are these responsibilities?’

He said, ‘That is, I am asked about a two-month period. İbrahim Yıldız served as editor-in-chief for 21 months and also came here. Utku Çakırözen served for seven months and Can Dündar served for eighteen months. İbrahim Yıldız was the longest serving editor-in-chief, but he was a witness and I became a defendant. They heard him and sent him on his way, so why am I still in detention?’ He said, ‘Does it have to do with me not having taken on what the others did in the two month period?’ I have no answer. ‘I will not step back by a millimetre from the position I take. I am Cumhuriyet’s editor-in-chief. All of a sudden the prosecution sent a letter and Doğan Satmış was heard as a witness. According to accounts that have entered the file, Satmış said, “They made the paper along with Tahir Özyurtseven while Dündar was in jail.” But Satmış is heard as witness and sent home, yet I am in detention for having served for two months’.”

18.40- Fikret İlkiz, Attorney-at-Law, showed the headlines contained in the indictment one by one and pointed to their dates: “When I look at all of these, just as I am unable to give any reply to him (referring to Murat Sabuncu), he asks me questions. You have researched the Financial Crimes Investigation Board and Bank Asya, a search has been made including behind the mirrors in his home, his bedroom was gone through with a fine toothcomb and his digital data has been obtained. He said, ‘Do I have any chance of release.’ I said, ‘I have no hope whatsoever’.”

18.41- Bahri Belen, Attorney-at-Law: “Akın is my student and not one to flee. He got up and came when there was an arrest warrant. It is impossible to detain him and the others on the assumption that they will flee or on the grounds that evidence will be gathered.”

Presiding Judge: “Example release orders are not binding on us.”

Belen: “In penal proceedings oral defence is a right granted to persuade you. There can be no question of not saying this or not saying that. We will persuade you. I am quoting orders. I know they are not binding but I am quoting them.

18.43- We do not accept these rulings (the Constitutional Court release rulings) in the file.

Belen: “Should they stay with me? In that case I will read my defence, too.

18.44- A recess was taken in the hearing.

20.05- The recess taken for the interim ruling in the Cumhuriyet trial was extended until 21.30.

22.15- The bench has taken its places.

22.17- The ruling is being announced. It was decided to adjourn the hearing until 16 March, to release Editor-in-Chief Murat Sabuncu and reporter Ahmet Şık and to extend Executive Board Chair Akın Atalay's detention.


The court bench imposed a limit of three lawyers for each “defendant” in the interim decision it passed on 25 December 2017. “Defence” lawyers Fikret İlkiz and Bahri Belen then applied to recuse the court bench asserting that it had lost its impartiality. It was stated in the interim decision that the said application would be examined by the next senior court.

Ahmet Şık ejected from courtroom

At the last hearing of the trial, Ahmet Şık levelled various criticisms at the rulership recalling that Court of Cassation President İsmail Rüştü Cirit had said, “In Turkey, as a proportion of the population, around 8% of people are suspects.” Presiding Judge Abdurrahman Orkun Dağ’s reply to Şık, who had said, “There is a rulership that regards 15% of the country as being suspects and terrorists and a judiciary that turns allegations of terrorism into irrational charges,” took the form, “If you continue like this, I will interrupt. This is not a defence. Go and become a member of parliament and criticise the AKP rule.” Dağ then removed Şık, who continued by saying, “This is a political trial” from the courtroom.

Akın Atalay and Murat Sabuncu then objected to Ahmet Şık’s ejection from the courtroom. Both individuals, stressing that they would not make a defence, expressed the wish to go and join Şık.

Cumhuriyet İMECESİ