Case Monitoring

Journalist Mehmet Gündem sentenced to 6 years in prison

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Journalist Mehmet Gündem who has been tried whilst in detention for the past 21 months for “membership in a terrorist organization” charges, received a prison sentence of 6 years 10 months and 15 days

İstanbul – Journalist Mehmet Gündem was brought from the Silivri Prison where he is being detained and was present at today’s hearing before the İstanbul 35th High Criminal Court. His family and defense lawyers were also present in the courtroom, where the public prosecutor reiterated his opinion on the accusations. It was indicated that the expert opinion required by the court during the previous hearing had been added to the case file.

As part of his final defense, Gündem stated: “I have been detained for the past 21 months and am accused of terrorism. This is a very degrading accusation, but I do not take this accusation personally. I cannot understand how I can be accused of terrorism when I have never even received a traffic fine to this day. Many things have changed in my life in the throughout these 21 months. I lost my father while I was detained. I wasn’t even allowed to attend his funeral. These are the consequences arising from a very ordinary decision. I tried not to accumulate anger during this period. But I cannot pretend that I have not been hurt”.

“I have only one request, that you protect justice”

Recalling the Constitutional Court’s decision in the Kadri Gürsel and Ali Bulaç cases, Gündem said, “I became a member of the Journalists and Writers Foundation in 2005. This foundation is a legal institution and I joined it with my profession in mind, but then I resigned. I did not take part in any meetings or public statements during the time that I was a member. I did not demonstrate support for the foundation on social media. The prosecution qualified my defense as a statement aimed at disculping myself from the accusations. There is no demonstrable offense; yet, I am being accused. I have been a journalist for 25 years. During the course of my lengthy career I have worked for numerous newspapers such as Yeni Şafak, Tercüman, and Zaman. I am a well-known and widely read journalist. The phone number said to be mine in the prosecution’s observations does not belong to me. I have never used ByLock. In addition, the prosecution has said that the suspicion of me fleeing was noted in the decision for the continuation of my detention. When I learned about the decision to take me into custody, I returned from my vacation and went to give my statement myself. I did not flee that day, would I flee today? I would like the prosecution to consider this point and I regard it as necessary that it show its suspicion concretely. I have only one request, that you protect justice. I am not guilty and I demand my acquittal.” 

“The investigation report on ByLock is full of contradictions”

Gündem’s lawyer began by pointing out that the lack of any concrete evidence within the case file, further claiming: “The mere fact that my client has an account at Bank Asya does not mean he is a member of a terrorist organisation. He has only met with the people mentioned in the claim and in the prosecution’s observations in the context of his profession of journalist. As the export report underlines, my client did not use ByLock on his phone. I ask that he be released.” His other lawyer, stating that the investigation report on ByLock was full of contradictions, indicated that they first and foremost demand Gündem’s release, and then his acquittal.

Taking the floor for the last time before the decision, Gündem said, “I do not have anything new to add. The procedure we are going through, my state and my appearance are there to see. I do not want to be sentimental but when I entered prison, the state of emergency was still in effect, which meant I could see my children every two months. Then the limit was decreased to one month. As a father, having to wait two months to touch one’s children is really difficult. I wrote four books during my time in prison. I saw what I had not seen before. I do not have anything more to say, I ask to be acquitted.”

The Court, disclosing its decision after a recess, ordered Gündem’s release from detention while sentencing him to 6 years 10 months and 15 days imprisonment for “membership in a terrorist organisation.” Gündem’s lawyers will be able to appeal this decision, when Gündem’s sentence will be executed is uncertain.