Evrensel's Editor-in-Chief Fatih Polat acquitted

7 March 2019

Cansu Pişkin, İstanbul - An İstanbul court acquitted Evrensel daily Editor-in-Chief Fatih Polat, who was charged with “violating the confidentiality of communication between persons” and “publicizing the contents of a communication between persons.”

Fourth hearing of the trial was held at İstanbul 2nd Criminal Court of the First Instance today. Fatih Polat and his lawyer Devrim Avcı were present in the courtroom. Among the observers who supported Polat were International Press Institute’s (IPI) Turkey Advocacy Coordinator Caroline Stockford and Evrensel writer İskender Bayhan. The court stated that the export report on whether the information in the concerned news story was publicized or circulated prior to its publication in Evrensel on 22 February 2010 has been prepared and included in the file. The expert report affirmed that the concerned news story was posted on eight other news websites prior to its publication in Evrensel. Polat’s lawyer Avcı repeated her defense, arguing that the news story has no element of confidentiality, adding that the expert report confirms this fact. Noting that the elements of the crime were not constituted, Avcı requested Polat’s acquittal. When asked for his final word, Polat also requested his acquittal. Following a short break for deliberation, the court ruled that the elements of the crime were indeed not constituted and acquitted Polat.

What happened?

A lawsuit was filed against Fatih Polat in February 2010, who was the Managing Editor of Evrensel at the time, for a news story published in Evrensel titled “I will ignite the deputies and get this done.” The news story was reporting on the alleged tape recordings between Melih Gökçek, Ankara Metropolitan Mayor at the time, and Burhan Kuzu, Head of the Grand National Assembly’s Committee on the Constitution at the time. Polat was charged with “unlawfully publicizing the contents of a communication between persons” but the prosecution against Polat was postponed per a press amnesty, which was issued on 5 July 2012. However, the prosecution later resumed on the ground that he committed a similar crime within three years.