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HomeHeadlineUnraveling the Enigma: Investigating Journalist Nazlı Ilıcak's Return to Prison

Unraveling the Enigma: Investigating Journalist Nazlı Ilıcak’s Return to Prison

Mehmet Tahsin*

On Monday evening, we received the news that 79-year-old journalist Nazlı Ilıcak had returned to prison. While wondering about the reason, her lawyer’s statement came. Speaking to T24, Nazlı Ilicak’s lawyer Kemal Ertuğ Derin said the following: “Due to an article about Orhan Kapıcı in 2016, Nazlı Ilicak was sentenced to 2 years and 6 months in prison in the trial held in 2021-2022. When the sentence was upheld on appeal, she surrendered herself to prison today. Normally, she should have been taken to an open prison. However, because she is still under supervised release on charges of ‘espionage,’ she entered a closed prison, and it is expected that she will stay in the closed prison for about 2-3 weeks. Afterward, she will transfer to an open prison and be released under supervised release.”

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Let’s hope that the reporter who reported this news made a mistake; otherwise, if the lawyer said these things, it’s bad. Because, as far as we know, Nazlı Hanım did not receive a sentence for the crime of “espionage.” Even if she were accused of a crime she did not commit, it is wrong for her lawyer to inform the media as if she had been sentenced for the crime of “espionage.”

As you may know, on December 14, 2014, exactly on the anniversary of the December 17/25 major corruption and bribery operation… Operations were carried out against Zaman Newspaper and Samanyolu Television and some police officers. After that operation, Hidayet Karaca and some police officers were arrested. Prosecutors considered it a crime that the police conducted an operation against a group called ‘Tahşiyeciler,’ close to Al-Qaeda, and that Zaman Newspaper and Samanyolu Television covered this in their broadcasts. Finally, they were arrested by prosecutor Bekir Altun, who we hear a lot about with bribery allegations in the courts these days, and they have been in prison for 9 years.

In those days, a document was submitted to the file by the lawyers of the detained police officers. According to a document dated March 13, 2009, signed by the Chief of Staff Intelligence Directorate İsmail Hakkı Pekin, some companies established by the ‘Tahşiyeciler’ were participating in military tenders.

The General Staff Intelligence Directorate also wrote a letter to the National Intelligence Organization (MIT) requesting an investigation into these individuals. According to the investigation conducted by MIT, the leader of the Tahşiyeciler group, Mehmet Doğan, declared himself as the ‘Mahdi’ and provided full support to the Al-Qaeda terrorist organization leader Osama Bin Laden.

Here, Nazlı Ilıcak wrote an article on January 2, 2015, about this document and included the cover page of the General Staff’s letter dated January 13, 2009, in the visuals of the article.

In the later stages of the investigation, Prosecutor Hasan Yılmaz, who conducted the Tahşiyeciler investigation in 2014, wrote a letter to MIT and the General Staff to confirm the authenticity of the relevant documents.

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After the publication of this article, in 2018, in the indictment prepared by the Istanbul Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office, Nazlı Ilıcak was accused of publishing this document prepared by the General Staff and was demanded to be punished with aggravated life imprisonment for “disclosing information that should be kept secret for the security or internal or external political interests of the state for political or military espionage purposes.”

In the trial held at Istanbul 26th Heavy Penal Court, Nazlı Ilıcak was sentenced to 5 years and 10 months in prison for the crime of “disclosing information that should be kept secret for the security of the state” despite the fact that the subject was a newspaper article and the press prosecutor had previously dismissed the case for the same article.

The trial was opened in 2018, three years after the publication of the article. However, the statute of limitations for press offenses is 4 months. A case cannot be opened after 4 months… But who cares about the Press Law! In the Istanbul 26th Heavy Penal Court, instead of trusting Nazlı Hanım’s defense and the Press Law, a 5-year and 10-month prison sentence was given.

Fortunately, the court did not impose a sentence for the crime of “Espionage” under Article 330/1 of the Turkish Penal Code (TCK) and instead imposed a sentence for “disclosing information that should be kept secret for the security or internal or external political interests of the state” under Article 329/1 of the TCK.

About 2 years after this decision, this time, a public prosecutor named Orhan Kapıcı filed a lawsuit against Nazlı Ilıcak, accusing her of defaming him in her article dated June 16, 2016. However, looking at the content of the article, there was nothing to support the crime of defamation, and the subject of the article was a criminal complaint made to the prosecutor by former police chief Hanefi Avcı. In this criminal complaint, Avcı alleged that a group called ‘National Vascular,’ organized within the judiciary and the police, was defaming everyone and undermining those who were not one of them. According to Hanefi Avcı, Orhan Kapıcı was also part of this group!

What Nazlı Ilıcak did was just to write about Hanefi Avcı’s claim and question whether it was true or not. We do not know if Prosecutor Orhan Kapıcı filed a case against Hanefi Avcı, the source of the allegations. If he had, it would have been news long ago.

In the end, in the trial held at Istanbul 15th Civil Court of First Instance, Nazlı Hanım was sentenced to 2 years and 6 months in prison for the crime of “defamation.” Since she received this sentence during the supervised release period of the previous sentence, after the decision was upheld on appeal, she ended up in prison.

A justified reaction to the imprisonment of Nazlı Ilıcak came from Hüseyin Kocabıyık, a former AKP member of parliament from the 25th and 26th terms. Kocabıyık shared on his social media account, “This is Nazlı Ilıcak, who defied the September 12 coup, stood by Tayyip Erdoğan in his loneliest times, fought against February 28, and defended the headscarf in the Turkish Grand National Assembly while men were slipping away. You are putting her in prison. Shame on those who do this!” In his post.

Hüseyin Çelik, a former minister and founding member of the AKP, wrote the following: “While many political Islamists remained silent during the days when militarism and judicial tutelage prevailed, Nazlı Ilıcak was challenging tanks with great courage. The return of 79-year-old Nazlı Ilıcak to prison has already destroyed justice, which is already crawling on the ground. It’s a shame, a sin, and a disgrace…” expressing his reaction.

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Today, those who use this decision as an excuse to send Nazlı Hanım to prison again, after trampling on the law after July 15, sentencing brave journalists like her to aggravated life imprisonment just for what they wrote and said. (If the death penalty had not been abolished, it would have been the death penalty). The European Court of Human Rights saw what was done as a violation of rights. The Court of Cassation overturned the life imprisonment and opened the door to Ilıcak and her friends’ freedom. But apparently, even a 79-year-old Nazlı Ilıcak, who gave up active journalism and sits in her corner, has not satisfied someone’s grudge. They wanted her to go back to prison with methods that do not fit the law, ethics, and humanity, by fabricating crimes.

For Barış Pehlivan, who recently went to prison for the same reason, those who made a fuss are silent for two days. What can we say, may you not experience what you put others through.

During the enforcement stage, sentences are collected and executed together! Although prison sentences continue to exist independently of each other, during the enforcement stage, sentences are collected (summed up) and executed. According to the decisions of the 1st Criminal Division of the Court of Cassation, if the execution process of the second offense becomes final while the enforcement process of the previous offense is being carried out, the following procedure is followed.

1- If a Conditional Release decision has been issued for the person regarding the first offense, then sentences are no longer collected, and the rules of supervised release for the second offense are determined according to its own rules.

2- If a Conditional Release decision has not been issued for the first offense, then the sentences for the first and second offenses are summed up and continued to be enforced together.

3- If different supervision periods are envisaged for the first and second offenses in the law, the supervision period of the offense that requires the least supervision becomes the supervision period of the summed up sentence. (For example, if there is a 1-year supervision for the first offense and a 3-year supervision for the second offense, the supervision period for the summed up sentence is 1 year).

4- In this case, for example, if the person has served 3 months of supervision for the first offense, and the second offense has become final and is being enforced, then the supervision is stopped, and the sentences are collected, and a new supervision and conditional release date is determined for the person.

In this situation, for example, if the supervision period of the summed up sentence is 1 year, and the person has served 3 months of supervision for the first offense, then the person can be released on supervised release using the remaining balance of 9 months before the new conditional release date.

*Mehmet Tahsin is a Turkish lawyer and political commentator focusing on Turkish politics and human rights violations.

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