New prosecutors assigned to Dündar, Gül case ahead of first hearing
AFP photoThe Istanbul Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office has assigned a new prosecutor to the controversial case of daily Cumhuriyet editor-in-chief Can Dündar and Ankara bureau chief Erdem Gül, two days before its first hearing on March 25 after the duo’s release upon a Constitutional Court decision.
On March 23, the office assigned prosecutor Evliya Çalışkan, who was working as a prosecutor at the Terror and Organized Crimes Bureau, to the 14th Court of Serious Crimes as a trial prosecutor in the case in which Dündar and Gül are charged with espionage and terrorism.
Prosecutor Lütfi Karabacak has also been assigned to the 14th Court of Serious Crimes as the trial prosecutor of the court’s second committee, along with Judges Mehmet Çelik, Ferhat Korkmaz and Ömer Karagöl, who will be part of the judge comittee. Bakırköy 2nd Peace Court Justice Bülent Dalkıran will be head judge of the committee.
Dündar and Gül, who were released pending trial on Feb. 26 after a decision by the Constitutional Court, are charged with espionage and threatening state security in stories published in Cumhuriyet about National Intelligence Agency (MİT) trucks allegedly transporting weapons to unknown groups in Syria.
The court said the journalists’ 92-day imprisonment over charges of terrorism was a “violation of rights.”
President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) have criticized the top court for “exceeding its jurisdiction.”
The journalists’ lawyers insist that the court cannot rule on their arrest mainly due to the previous top court decision.
The prosecutor’s office added a new document to the case in support of the charges against Dündar.
According to the document sent to the court on March 21, Dündar sold his villa in Ankara to the lawyers who were arrested as part of the same probe in return for publishing the news story.
The documents said that based on the deed records, after Dündar published the mentioned news story on May 29, 2015, Dündar’s 1.5-million-dollar villa, which had been on the market since 2012, was sold for 1.5 million Turkish Liras (roughly $520,000) on June 25, 2015, to later-arrested lawyers Bekir Mustafa Yılmaz and Sönmez Ahi, who are allegedly “members of the “Fethullahist Terrorist Organization (FETÖ)/Parallel State Structure (PDY) armed terror group.”
The definition refers to followers of Fethullah Gülen, a Turkish Islamic scholar based in the U.S. who is accused of plotting a coup against the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP). Gülen is also the main suspect in the investigation of mass wiretapping of Dec. 17 and 21, 2013, which targeted more than 7,000 people while Erdoğan was Turkey’s prime minister.
The document also included information that Ahi, who was the lawyer of Adana Gendarmerie Region Commander Hamza Celepoğlu, is the brother in-law of another arrested lawyer, Atilla Tarık Çilekçi. Çilekçi was reported to be close to Fethullah Gülen as he was captured in a photo while he was kissing Gülen’s hand, a sign of reverence in Turkey.