Court extends arrest warrant for daily Sözcü’s proprietor

Court extends arrest warrant for daily Sözcü’s proprietor

Court extends arrest warrant for daily Sözcü’s proprietor

The arrest warrant for the proprietor of Turkish daily Sözcü, Burak Akbay, was extended by a court in Istanbul on May 30. Akbay faces 30 years in jail for terror charges.

Istanbul’s 37th High Criminal Court has also extended the bans on leaving the country imposed on reporter Gökmen Ulu and former managing internet news editor Mediha Olgun. 

On May 26, 2017, Ulu and Olgun were arrested and an arrest warrant was issued for Akbay, who lives abroad, following an investigation over the terrorism charges. Financial officer Yonca Yücekaleli was released pending trial on the same day.

Olgun and Ulu were released pending trial after being behind bars for 120 and 174 days respectively.

All demands rejected 

During the hearing on May 30, Akbay’s lawyers demanded for the warrant to be lifted. The newspaper’s owner faces between 15-30 years in jail for “managing” the Fethullahist Terrorist Organization (FETÖ).

“All the allegations in the indictment have been refuted … The client [Burak Akbay] has been abroad under the threat of being arrested. Thus, I demand the lifting of the arrest warrant,” said one of Akbay’s lawyers, Celal Ülgen.

However, the court rejected the demand to lift the arrest warrant as well as the travel restrictions against Ulu and Olgun, deciding to “wait for the enforcement of the warrant.”

The two journalists also face jail terms between 7.5 and 15 years on allegations that they helped the perpetrators of the coup attempt on July 15, 2016 with the news report on President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s holiday destination.

Main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) deputy Sezgin Tanrıkulu attended the hearing in support of the critical daily.

All the defendants strongly rejected claims that they were linked to Fethullah Gülen, the U.S.-based Islamic preacher who is believed to have masterminded the coup attempt, which claimed the lives of more than 240 people.

The next hearing was scheduled for Nov. 7.