Freedom for Akın Atalay
The seventh hearing of the Cumhuriyet trial, which has seen our newspaper’s Executive Board Chair Akın Atalay spend 502 days in detention, will be held today in Silivri. The prosecutor will announce his recommendation.
The seventh hearing of the trial in which our newspaper’s editorial policy stands accused will be held today in the courtroom opposite Silivri Prison. Based on the interim decision at the previous hearing in the trial which has seen our Executive Board Chair and lawyer Akın Atalay spend 502 days in detention, prosecutor Hacı Hasan Bölükbaşı is expected to announce his recommendation on the merits.
At the sixth hearing on 9 March of the trial being conducted by Istanbul Serious Crime Court No 27, the bench restricted the number of our columnists’ and managers’ lawyers to three. Presiding Judge Abdurrahman Orkun Dağ frequently interrupted lawyers while they were speaking and said that the National Judiciary Informatics System would operate until 7 pm and so they could hold the hearing until that time. Dağ did not accept a file containing newspaper cuttings concerning release orders previously passed by various courts that one of our columnists’ and managers’ lawyers, Bahri Belen, submitted, saying, “Examples of release orders are not binding on us.” Dağ, who also refused to accept the Constitutional Court’s rights violation rulings that Belen wished to submit, told lawyer Aynur Tuncel Yazgan, who raised the issue of the Constitutional Court’s rights violation ruling on Mehmet Altan, “Thank you for your suggestions and recommendations but we have ruled on that matter.”
The court’s witnesses
Our newspaper’s former reporter, Leyla Tavşanoğlu, former Aydınlık newspaper columnist, Mehmet Faraç and Namık Kemal Boya, lawyer of Alev Coşkun who sent an anonymous tip-off letter in connection with the Cumhuriyet Foundation Trial to the President’s office were heard as witnesses at the hearing. While Boya was trotting off his unfounded accusations that he had supplied to the prosecution, Presiding Judge Dağ asked him if he had information as to whether Cumhuriyet’s managers received instructions from terrorist organisations. Boya said that he had no information. Witness Faraç, in turn, spoke about himself in his half-hour testimony. Having exited the hearing, he continued to parade his unfounded accusations on his Twitter account and claimed to have shed light on these with documents at the hearing.
Following the hearing of the court’s witnesses, politician and writer Altan Öymen and Confederation of Progressive Trade Unions General Chair, Kani Beko, were also heard as witnesses called by the defence. Oymen said, “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.” Beko, in turn, spoke as follows, “I follow Cumhuriyet newspaper that is true to its principles, today as yesterday. I will continue to read it for as long as it defends these principles. Cumhuriyet is a newspaper that has not diverged from its principles since it first came out. This is what I have understood until now and this is what I have tried to get across. I tell my children the same thing. I do not know a writer on the paper who shows closeness to FETO. I read Uğur Mumcu, who spoke about them for years. I have not read or recognised one single sentence in praise of the Gulenists.”
Additional right of defence
Presiding Judge Dağ ordered the release of Murat Sabuncu with the comment, “He wants to see the Bosphorus, let him do so,” and that of Ahmet Şık saying, “Soner Yalçın said, ‘Ahmet Şık’s mother has reached a ripe age; don’t torment her’.” With reference to Atalay’s extended detention, he said, “Captains are the last to leave the ship.” The court, ordering the file to be remitted to the prosecutor for him to compile the recommendation on the merits, ruled that Ahmet Şık and our accounting employee Emre İper be granted an additional right of defence.
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