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Court rules to keep journalist Harun Çümen in prison

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The court ruled to keep journalist Harun Çümen, who has been imprisoned for 473 days, in detention during the third hearing of his trial

İstanbul – Third hearing of the trial where since shut down Zaman newspaper’s former Managing Editor Harun Çümen faces “membership in a terrorist organization” and “willingly and knowingly aiding and abetting a terrorist organization” charges was held at İstanbul 32nd High Criminal Court today. Çümen is tried whilst in detention.

Çümen attended the hearing via SEGBİS video-conference link from Balıkesir Prison where he is being held. Çümen refused that the phone and text messages that allegedly belonged to him were actually his. Çümen said, “I am aware of the digital investigation report. As I said during the first hearing, the text messages that mention fleeing do not belong to me. Eight of us were taken into custody together and our phones were confiscated randomly with no specific order. I refuse that the phone that is presented as evidence against me is indeed my phone – it cannot be.”

“My life has turned upside down following the cruel coup attempt”

Çümen noted that he has been imprisoned for 473 days and that his right to liberty is being violated. The journalist added: “I haven’t used ByLock. No secret witnesses testified against me. I have never deposited any money to Bank Asya. I only withdrew some cash from that bank because that’s where my salary was paid. I became a member to the union that the State asked me to join. I only practiced journalism.”

Journalist Harun Çümen also referred to the judicial reform package announced by President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and criticized his long detention period. Çümen stated, “There is not one investigation launched against me. My life has turned upside down following this cruel coup attempt. I want the things mentioned by the judiciary reform package to be taken into consideration and demand being tried without detention or being released with judicial control measures so that I can reunite with my family. I also demand my acquittal.”

Çümen’s lawyer Gökçen Yaşar noted that his client has no intention of fleeing, that he has a valid passport, adding that he has nothing to do with the operations of any terrorist organization and demanded Çümen’s acquittal.

The prosecutor demanded the continuation of all detained defendants in the trial.  

The court announced its interim decision following the defense statements. The court ruled for the continuation of Çümen’s detainment and adjourned the trial until 18 July.