Court rules to keep journalist Mehmet Gündem in prison

8 May 2019

İstanbul - Journalist Mehmet Gündem, who is in mid-trial detention in Silivri Prison on charges of “membership in a terrorist organization,” appeared before the Istanbul 35th High Criminal Court today.

The court ruled to keep his arrest warrant in place in what was the fifth hearing in the case. Gündem was transported from Silivri Prison to the courtroom at Istanbul’s Çağlayan Courthouse.

Lawyers for Gündem said they had not been given the prosecutor’s final opinion until the morning of the hearing and requested more time for preparing a defense statement. The Presiding Judge stated that Gündem’s name appears on a list of individuals identified as members of the “Fetullahist Terrorist Organization,” or FETÖ -- the name given by Turkish authorities to the Islamic network which Turkey says was behind the coup attempt of 2016-- sent to the court by the Istanbul Chief Prosecutor’s Office.

Gündem responded that he had no knowledge of such a list, adding that this was the first time he heard of this accusation.

Lawyers representing Gündem demanded his release, arguing that there is no solid evidence linking their client to the FETÖ group and asserted that he is not a flight risk.

The court ruled to keep the journalist in prison and adjourned the trial until 29 May 2019 11:10 am, when the defense is expected to submit their final testimony.