Court releases journalist Ece Sevim Öztürk

11 December 2018
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Cansu Pişkin, İstanbul - Journalist Ece Sevim Öztürk appeared before İstanbul 37. High Criminal Court today, on charges “willingly aiding and abetting a terrorist organization” and “terrorist propaganda”. Court sentenced Öztürk to three years, one month and 15 days in prison, and ruled for her release, considering the time she spent in detention.

The indictment presents six tweets of Ece Sevim Öztürk, and her documentary titled “Darkest day of the Navy: July 15” as evidence for crime. Öztürk was arrested on the grounds that she was “aiming to create chaos before the June 24 elections”, charged with “aiding and abetting a terrorist organization” and “terrorist propaganda”. Her second hearing was held privately with no press or audience allowed into the courtroom, due to her family’s request at İstanbul 37. High Criminal Court.

The prosecutor presented his final opinion in the hearing and requested Öztürk’s punishment for “aiding and abetting a terrorist organization”. After the defense statements, the court recessed for 15 minutes to make a final ruling. Lawyer Efkan Bolaç came out of the courtroom during the break and answered the questions of press members. He noted, “There are no new documents or evidence in the file, there are no witnesses either. Therefore we did not request extra time, to put an end to this uncertainty.”

The court convicted Öztürk of “willingly aiding and abetting a terrorist organization” and sentenced her to three years, one month and 15 days in prison. Considering the time she spent in pre-trial detention, the panel of judges ruled for Öztürk’s release, imposing her a ban on leaving the country. Öztürk’s lawyers will take her case to the Appeal Court.
‘The case was manipulated’

Öztürk’s husband Yaşar Şahin Öztürk was asked why they requested to hold the hearing in private to which he responded back by saying, “Some lawyers and press members that we suspect to be affiliated with FETÖ (Gulenist organization that is widely believed to be the mastermind behind the July 15 coup) have manipulated the case during the previous hearing. We made this decision to not pressure the court, or bring the defendant under suspicion.”

What had happened?

Journalist Ece Sevim Öztürk was arrested on 8 June 2018, after she published her documentary titled “Darkest day of the Navy: July 15”. She was held in police custody for 12 days, before being arrested and sent to Bakırköy Prison on 20 June, on “terrorist propaganda” charges. Her seven-page indictment was prepared on 6 August, which accused her of “creating a perception for the benefit of the terrorist organization and attempters of the coup under the name of journalism”.