İstanbul - First hearing of the trial where imprisoned journalist Ahmet Altan faces “insulting a public officer” charges due to a column he wrote in 2010 was held at Anadolu 2nd Criminal Court of First Instance located in Kartal, İstanbul.
The concerned column was titled “The great battle has started” and published in Taraf daily in 2010. Altan wrote about the leaked phone conversation between two members of the Supreme Court where they discussed İlhan Cihaner’s release from prison.
The indictment is drafted by prosecutor Dursun Yılmaz. Supreme Court’s 11th Chamber President Ersan Ülker appears as the injured and İlhan Cihaner appears as the complainant in the case. This lawsuit was initially filed in 2010 but İlhan Cihaner had submitted a petition saying that there wasn’t a crime committed against him and the prosecution was deferred.
Following the approval of Altan’s prison sentence from a different trial in October 2018, this case was reopened.
Altan attended the hearing via video-conference from Silivri Prison, where he is currently serving a sentence for “attempting to overthrow the government.”
“The prosecutor is trying to persecute criticism”
In his defense statement, Altan said: “I am on trial for the most bizarre accusations, it feels like the prosecutors are competing among each other to come up with the most bogus indictment.” Altan pointed out that Cihaner still appears as the complainant in the case file although he had already submitted a petition noting that he is not filing a complaint and added, “The prosecutor is trying to persecute criticism.”
“Two members of a high judicial body to discuss who they will be appointing where as an award following the release of someone is a crime all around the world,” and continued:
“Criticism is the state’s oxygen. We are experiencing the repercussions of confusing criticism with insult and suffocating the state. Do not let this happen. Let the state and judiciary breathe.”
Altan’s lawyer Figen A. Çalıkuşu stated that Ülker’s name, who is listed as the injured in the case file, is not mentioned in the column at all, further adding that which chamber of the Supreme Court he was appointed to was not specified. Çalıkuşu requested the interim decision about Ülker’s request to intervene.
The judge refused the request to reconsider Ülker’s request to become an intervenor in the case and decided to wait for Gölbaşı Criminal Court of First Instance’s reply to the inquiry about İlhan Cihaner.
The trial is adjourned until 17 September.