İstanbul court ruled to keep journalist Gündem in prison

30 October 2018

Canan Coşkun, İstanbul - İstanbul Court ruled to keep journalist and writer Mehmet Gündem, who is accused of membership in a terrorist organization, in prison and adjourned his hearing until 8 January 2019.

Gündem’s second hearing was planned to start at 11:20 at İstanbul 35. High Criminal Court, however,  it was delayed until 3:00 PM. He was taken into custody in the police operation against the Journalists and Writers Foundation, and was put into pre-trial detention. Gündem, who has been imprisoned for one year, his lawyers and relatives were present in the hearing. The presiding judge Adem Aygün noted that an expert had reviewed the digital materials owned by Gündem, however, some review reports were missing. Aygün added that a portion of the digital materials was delivered to the İstanbul Public Prosecutor’s Office as the Anti Cybercrime Department requested. The hearing prosecutor requested the continuation of detention of Gündem when the court asked his opinion.

After hearing the prosecutor’s opinion, the court called upon Gündem to submit his statement. Gündem noted that the indictment was creating the perception that he had been in contact with some people in recent years, whereas the phone calls presented as evidence against him dates back to 10 years ago. He also added that he had not used ByLock or was not instructed to transfer money to Bank Asia by someone.

Gündem’s lawyer Ömer Faik Çetiner remarked that his client was in an executive position on the board of Journalists and Writers Foundation for 6 months. He said, “My client was not in an active position in the foundation. The indictment claims that the foundation was known to be linked with FETÖ around the years 2014 and 2015, however the foundation was shut down after the 15 July coup attempt. Therefore working for this foundation does not constitute a crime. My client is not linked with the organization.” Çetiner also noted that Gündem had worked for Zaman newspaper for a while in 1999, which again is not enough to link him with the organization.

Gündem’s lawyer Mecit Ceylan remarked that none of the Journalists and Writers Foundation executives were in prison and said, “My client’s signature was not under the decision that elected Gülen as an honorary president.”

After the lawyers’ statements, the presiding judge Aygün asked Gündem a few questions about his digital materials that were seized. Gündem explained that the documents in question were related with a biographical book that he was writing about the Kavurmacı family.

The court ruled to keep Gündem in jail and adjourned the hearing until 8 January 2019, to complete the review report regarding the digital materials.

Who is Mehmet Gündem?

Gündem had worked for Zaman, Tercüman, Milliyet and Yeni Şafak newspapers in the past. He was a biography writer, and had published an interview in January 2005, in Milliyet newspaper titled “11 Days with Fethullah Gülen”. He had also made the interview into a book afterward.