The arrested journalists
The arrest of journalists is quite a big problem in democratic societies since it is a violation against society’s right to demand news. Therefore, our country is viewed by the international community as quite troubled.
So, the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) accepted applications from journalists and asked for a defense from the Justice Ministry.
The Constitutional Court of Turkey accepted the application of Ahmet and Mehmet Altan as a “pilot case.” So, let’s see what decision will be made.
On Sept. 18, Şahin Alpay, Ali Bulaç, Mümtazer Türköne and Ahmet Turan Alkan, who were our colleagues, joined the court case and if their turn comes, they will make their first defense.
On Sept. 19, Nazlı Ilıcak and Ahmet and Mehmet Altan have trials.
The opinion of the government
“They were not arrested for journalism,” says the government in its statements. But there is no single evidence aside from the “articles, news and speeches” in the case files.
Weren’t Can Dündar and Erdem Gül arrested twice with the demand for a life sentence, for the crimes, “espionage, and attempt to destroy the government or prevent them from doing their duties and helping an armed terror organization?”
“There is no evidence in the file related to these crimes; there are only newspaper cuttings,” said the Constitutional Court and decided that the arrest was against human rights (B. No: 2015/18567).
There was also no other evidence than the newspaper cuttings and TV recordings on the file of the professional journalists. Therefore, in the words of the Constitutional Court, “the arrest is a violation against the freedom of expression.”
Collecting the critical articles and speeches directed to the government—even if their tone is harsh—and making comments like “subliminal coup messages” or “preparing the base for the coup,” has no “evidence” value by law.
It is necessary to prove these articles were written by an order from the organization and with intentions of committing a crime.
In Şahin Alpay’s file, there are only seven articles in his entire writing career and they criticize the government.
The last article the prosecutor put in the file dates to March 29, 2014.
Could liberal Şahin Alpay, write about the hateful coup on July 15, 2016 as a “prophecy”?!
Even the article about the martial law, which Nazlı Ilıcak had written 40 years ago in 1977, is put as a “support for coup plotters” evidence!
The secret side of the Fethullahist Terror Organization (FETÖ)
The most important legal aspect in these cases is whether they acted knowingly or unknowingly of the Fethullahist Terror Organization’s (FETÖ) dark side, which later emerged.
Did the government itself not have the attitude of “we gave them all they wanted” for a long time?
Many of the indictments state that FETÖ “professionally hid” many of his secret organizations.
“I am not the only one who is mistaken about the Gülen movement (FETÖ),” says Şahin Alpay in his written testimony. He repeats the words of the Turkish Chief of General Staff Gen. Hulusi Akar: “For long years, FETÖ showed itself as a peaceful group and in this way, he earned the sympathy of the democratic society.”
In this case, will “democratic society” be arrested?
Of course, there is nothing people can say if there is valid legal evidence about the journalists having organic and hierarchical relations with the dark side of FETÖ that emerged later on.
What the law requires
What I have written is in line with the former verdicts in the Turkish Constitutional Court and the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) cases.
The ECHR already accepted applications from journalists.
If there is no other evidence valid by law aside from the articles and the speeches, these files will be returned from the ECHR.
Enis Berberoğlu’s file will also be returned from the ECHR, who was sentenced to 25 years due to a change in the verdict of the Supreme Court without a single piece of new evidence in the file.
The requirement for justice and our country’s reputation is to obey the universal law and judge journalists without arrest.