Journalists under arrest
The Constitutional Court has finally made a move and has decided to act on the applications of the detained journalists. For months, it has avoided bringing it on the agenda.
The court will see their case on Jan. 11 and will decide on the individual applications of Şahin Alpay, Mehmet Altan and Turhan Günay, which will set a precedent.
On the other hand, the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) has accepted the applications of arrested journalists, including Nazlı Ilıcak, Ahmet Şık, Ali Bulaç, Murat Sabuncu and Ahmet Altan. The court has asked for the defense from the Ministry of Justice and I suppose it will make a decision in a couple of months.
The Constitutional Court might be trying to avoid a negative image due to the ECHR decision, since it had postponed looking at the files. At any rate, the Constitutional Court has taken a positive step.
The letter from Ilıcak
Following the military coup on Sept. 12, 1980, I was tried with a death sentence in the case of the Nationalist Movement Party. Vural Özenirler and Ali Fahir Kayacak were independent judges with consciences, so we were released on the first trial.
I was out, but I was unemployed, so thanks to recommendations from Nazlı Ilıcak, the late Ahmet Kabaklı and the late Kemal Ilıcak, I began working at the daily Tercüman.
Nazlı Ilıcak is currently in prison. The letter she wrote me moved both my wife and I.
When I was in prison, all of us who had been under arrest, be it from the left or the right-wing read Nazlı Ilıcak’s articles criticizing the coup with great interest and hope that it might contribute to justice.
Now, in order to show how Nazlı Ilıcak is a coup plotter, who is being tried with a life sentence, the indictment claims she also supported the Sept. 12 coup!
Unfortunately, indictments and arrests in Turkey have not been saved from these types of rhetorical “adornments.” They have not reached the point of having content limited to just legal concepts and evidence.
We have been seeing subjective descriptions and attempts to read intent, such as claims that “he/she gave a subliminal message,” or “it is impossible that he/she was unaware,” or “he/she prepared the groundwork with critical writings,” or “he/she made the organization look positive.”
But these are not legal concepts. The law can only look at concrete motives in order to see whether the suspect acted knowingly and with deliberate intent.
One needs to prove with concrete evidence that a journalist or a shopkeeper has “knowingly” and “intentionally” helped or written the preparations for the coup by the Fethullahist Terrorist Organization (FETÖ), which had not been disclosed in a timely manner and informed in advance by the National Intelligence Agency (MİT).
One cannot construct a verdict in law based on “it was impossible they did not know.” That is why I say all of the professional journalists under arrest will be acquitted at the ECHR.
Why should they serve jail time when they are innocent? They should be tried without arrest.
Are journalists privileged?
Do journalists have the privilege to commit a crime? No, this is how the question needs to be asked: Do citizens have a right to learn different ideas and different dimensions of events?
There have always been people who have tried to prevent this, but no one has been able to say “citizens do not have a right to learn different ideas.”
The only way for citizens to have this right is through the existence of freedom of expression and for journalists to be free under the standards of the European Court of Human Rights.