Trial of journalists who reported on Albayrak’s leaked emails is adjourned

16 April 2019

İstanbul - Seventh hearing of the trial where six journalists stand trial for reporting on the emails of Berat Albayrak, Minister of Energy and Natural Resources at the time and current Ministry of Finance and Treasury, which were leaked by RedHack resumed at İstanbul 29th High Criminal Court today.  

Journalists Tunca Öğreten, Mahir Kanaat, Ömer Çelik, Metin Yoksu, Eray Sargın, and Derya Okatan face the following charges for reporting on Albayrak’s leaked emails: terrorist propaganda; hindrance or destruction of an information system, deletion or alteration of data; acting on behalf of a terrorist organization without being a member, and membership in a terrorist organization.

Although the hearing was scheduled to start at 9:45 AM, it started at 10:40 AM due to a technical difficulty with the court’s teleconferencing system SEGBİS. While journalists Okatan, Öğreten, Kanaat and Sargı were present in the courtroom, Metin Yoksu attended the hearing from Batman and Ömer Çelik from Diyarbakır via SEGBİS.

A new indictment accusing Ömer Çelik of “making terrorist propaganda” charges for Dicle News Agency’s (DİHA) news stories from 2015, when Çelik used to work as the news director of the agency, is now merged with this case. However, Çelik’s statement could not be heard in this hearing due to a malfunction with the teleconferencing system SEGBİS.

Çelik’s lawyer Özcan Kılıç made a brief statement about this new indictment and said, “The Prosecutor’s Office is trying to influence the trial adversely by adding an indictment prepared on news stories from many years ago to the file.”

The digital report debunked the claim that Mahir Kanaat produced documents

New digital reports have been received by the court between hearings. One of these reports debunks the claim that Mahir Kanaat produced the documents that he had reported on himself and clearly shows that Kanaat had downloaded these files from the internet. When Kanaat was arrested on 17 January 2016, it was alleged that he had created these documents on the 17-25 December corruption scandal.

Kanaat’s lawyer Ali Deniz Ceylan noted that this report destroys the legal foundation of the arrest and the entire investigation, and requested judicial control measures to be lifted.

Öğreten, Okatan, Kanaat, Sargı and Yoksu were asked for their statements and all underlined that journalism was on trial in this case.   

Öğreten said, “I’ve never been involved with any organization. All I’ve done is write news for the public’s benefit.” Okatan noted that his deceased cousin’s computer had been confiscated during his arrest and demanded it to be returned. Kanaat added that his daughter’s iPad had been confiscated during the arrest and demanded its return.

Travel ban is not lifted, trial adjourned until 24 September

The court announced its interim decision and accepted Okatan and Yoksu’s demand to be exempt from upcoming hearings. Since Çelik’s defense in response to the new indictment could not be heard, his request to be exempt from hearings was rejected.

Presiding Judge Ümit Kartlı noted that the report on digital materials have been received in February and ruled that all digital materials shall be returned after the images taken from them are double checked. The court also decided to have separate digital reports to be prepared for each defendant except Mahir Kanaat.

The court ruled for the continuation of the international travel ban for all defendants and adjourned the trial until 24 September.