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Decision of the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention regarding Ali Ünal: Despite the need for non-prosecution, he has received a 19-year sentence!

Journalist Ali Ünal has been in custody since August 2016.

The United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention has announced its decision regarding journalist and writer Ali Ünal, who has been detained for nearly 7 years. According to the decision, it was stated that Ali Ünal was sentenced to 19 years and 6 months of imprisonment, even though he should not have been prosecuted. In the decision of the Working Group, it was noted that the reasons given by the regime’s judges and prosecutors for punishing innocent people, which they refer to as criteria, are legal and routine activities; and based on these, not only should no punishment be imposed, but even arrest should not be made.

Ali Ünal was arrested in August 2016 on the grounds of his columns and was subsequently sentenced to imprisonment after a so-called trial.

THE GOVERNMENT COULD NOT PRESENT EVIDENCE FOR THE ALLEGATIONS

In the decision of the UN Working Group, it was stated, “The reason cited for the applicant’s arrest is his involvement in the Gülen movement. The Working Group has indicated that the Government has not demonstrated how the actions attributed to the applicant constitute a criminal offense and has not even raised a reasonable suspicion that these actions are criminal.” The decision emphasized that journalistic activities cannot be considered as “crimes” and also mentioned that the government could not present any evidence regarding the reasons for considering these activities as terrorist activities, which were used as grounds for punishing tens of thousands of people.

Human rights lawyer Dr. Gökhan Güneş made important remarks about the UN Working Group’s decision regarding Ali Ünal. Güneş’s comments are as follows:

The important points about the decision are as follows: All Actions Subject to Accusation Are Legal Activities!

The reason cited for the applicant’s arrest is his involvement in the Gülen movement. The Working Group has indicated that the Government has not demonstrated how the actions attributed to the applicant constitute a criminal offense and has not even raised a reasonable suspicion that these actions are criminal (p.72).

Journalistic Activities Cannot be a Reason for Arrest!

The Working Group has stated that Ünal’s activities do not contain incitement to violence and that these activities fall within the scope of freedom of expression and assembly. It has been emphasized that his detention cannot be justified by his engagement in activities such as writing columns, writing books, and hosting television programs, in other words, engaging in journalistic activities (p.73).

No Evidence Has Been Presented Regarding the Applicant’s Activities Being Acts of Terrorism!

In the decision, it was stated that in all applications, including incidents such as abductions from abroad, the Government has not made any determination regarding how the activities constituting the basis of the accusation are considered as criminal acts. It was also mentioned that individuals are accused based on their participation in legal activities, and it was stated that the Government could not present any evidence that Ünal’s journalistic activities correspond to violence or terrorism. The reason for Ünal’s arrest is his exercise of freedom of expression and organization! (Paragraph 75).

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