An İstanbul court ruled on Friday to remand in custody all alleged “media leg” suspects, including journalists Nazlı Ilıcak, Mehmet Altan and novelist Ahmat Altan, on trial over their alleged links to the Gülen movement.
In the 5th hearing of the case, the lawyers of the 17 suspects including Ilıcak, Ahmet Altan, Mehmet Altan, Mehmet Altan, Fevzi Yazıcı, Şükrü Tuğrul Özşengül and Yakup Şimşek, demanded release from the court. However, the 26th High Criminal Court of İstanbul has rejected release demand and ordered to remand in custody all suspects citing a “strong crime suspicion,” the “possibility of lacking judicial control,” and “suspicion that the suspects may flee.” Following the court’s interim decision, the hearing was postponed to Sept. 19.
Some 17 suspects are being tried in the case on charges of “attempting to overthrow the constitutional order,” “attempting to overthrow the parliament” and “attempting to overthrow the government.”
While facing three aggravated life sentences for the charges, they also face an additional prison term of 15 years on the charge of “committing crimes on behalf of a terrorist organization without being a member.”
Renowned jailed journalist and novelist Ahmet Altan harshly slammed the prosecutor who prepared a controversial indictment against him and other journalists in a court hearing on Thursday as part of the alleged “media leg” of the Gülen movement. Declaring that none of the charges against him in the indictment prepared by Prosecutor Can Tuncay could be proved, Altan called the indictment ‘judicial porn.”
“To put forward accusations that have no coherence whatsoever and are not based on any evidence is to ravish the law. Indeed, this prosecutor has made ravishing the law such a habit that our indictment has turned into pornography of the law,” Altan told the court in İstanbul in his defense through the voice and video informatics system (SEGBİS) from infamous Silivri Prison.
“This text, which is claimed to be an indictment and lacks any intelligent or legal basis, doesn’t even deserve a defense. When you read the indictment, you understand that places called courthouses have turned into legal slaughterhouses,” Altan said.
Observers see the trial as a crucial test not only of press freedom but the independence of the judiciary in Turkey and whether an institution that has had a quarter of its members purged under emergency law can still hold a fair trial.
“They are being charged with the same accusations as those who picked up rifles and committed violence on the night of the coup,” said Tobias Garnett, a lawyer with P24, an organisation that supports independent journalism and represents a number of journalists, including the Altan brothers, told to the Guardian. “The charges are absurd, but the question is, are they going to get a fair trial? This is as much a test of judicial independence as of press freedom,” said Garnett.
Ahmet Altan has continued his court testimony by saying that “We were arrested because we criticised the AKP… (However) for me being a defendant in a trial like this and spending my life in jail is more honourable than being the prosecutor… There is no freedom of expression in this country except for the prosecutor’s lies… I don’t have any requests and your judgements don’t have anything to do with me. All judges will be judged by their own judgements.”
“The recklessness of the prosecutor who authored this untruthful and nonsensical indictment proves this has become a habit of the justice system,” said Ahmet Altan has also stated that “one cannot make sense of the indictment… The prosecutor doesn’t care about being sensible. He wrote whatever came to his mind. The indictment has become an utterly confusing soup of lies.”
Moreover, Altan slammed Prosecutor Tuncay for putting charges in the indictment that have nothing to do with him. “Your [the prosecutor’s] investigations do not have the slightest credit. Neither in Turkey nor in the world,” he said.
Saying that the suspects were alleged to know the men “who are alleged to know the men who are alleged to have directed the coup,” Altan said that the claim is the basis of the whole indictment. “There are said to be some men who directed this coup… There are said to be some men who knew these men… And we are said to know those men. I know it is very difficult to believe but this is what the indictment sets out in all those pages. Let me ask this: How can ‘knowing’ someone be accepted as the evidence of a crime? If you know a criminal does that make you a criminal, too?” he added.
Describing the accusation as ridiculous, Altan said how can knowing someone be considered evidence of a crime.
“If your neighbor stands trial on charges of forgery, will you also stand trial on same charges just because you know him? In order for you to be accused of something and to be held responsible for doing it, you need to commit that act yourself or take part in committing it. Is it not necessary to prove that you took part in that act? Of course, it is. Is there any such evidence? Of course not. There is only verbiage based solely on lies,” said Altan.
With regard to his writing for the Haberdar news website belonging to journalist Said Sefa, who is mentioned as the leader of a terrorist organization in the indictment, Altan said there is no court ruling recognizing Sefa as a terrorist leader, and even if there were such a ruling, this would have nothing to do with himself as only the person who commits a criminal act can be held responsible for it.
The prominent journalist also said the prosecutor in the indictment included news reports from the Taraf daily as evidence of Altan’s involvement in the coup attempt; however, he parted ways with Taraf in 2012 as its editor-in-chief, and the daily’s past reports have nothing to do with the July 15 coup attempt.
“I am telling all this in detail because I want everyone to see how this prosecutor and similar others are recklessly destroying people’s lives and abusing their power. I want all this to be recorded for the day when the law is once again revived,” said Altan.
Altan’s younger brother, Mehmet, who delivered his defense during the third hearing of the trial on Wednesday, denied that he sent subliminal messages to coup plotters who tried to overthrow the Turkish government last year, saying he had been put on trial for a crime that does not exist.
“If Rousseau were alive today and had shared his views on TV, he would be taken into custody for giving subliminal messages,” Altan told the court, referring to Enlightenment philosopher Jean-Jacques Rousseau.
“There were no subliminal messages on that TV program. … I have been detained for a nonexistent message, over a nonexistent crime,” he said according to a copy of his defense statement posted online.
“Surely I wasn’t aware of the coup attempt. I know that I stand here today just because I did not applaud the slaughter of democracy by the government,” he told the court.
A total of 17 suspects are being tried in the case on charges of “attempting to overthrow the constitutional order,” “attempting to overthrow the parliament” and “attempting to overthrow the government.” A controversial indictment drafted by Prosecutor Can Tuncay on April 2017, seeks three consecutive life sentences for the suspects on coup charges.
The suspects mentioned in the indictment are former Zaman daily CEO Ekrem Dumanlı, former Today’s Zaman Editor-in-Chief Bülent Keneş, Samanyolu TV Washington representative Şemsettin Efe, Zaman daily journalist Abdülkerim Balcı, Zaman former deputy editor-in-chief Mehmet Kamış, Zaman executive Faruk Kardıç, Zaman daily design director Fevzi Yazıcı, Zaman brand manager Yakup Şimşek, Zaman culture and arts editor Ali Çolak, journalists Nazlı Ilıcak, Ahmet Altan and Mehmet Altan, Professor Osman Özsoy, academic Şükrü Tuğrul Özşengül. Emre Uslu and Tuncay Opçin, two journalists who have hundreds of followers on Twitter, are also mentioned in the indictment.
The Zaman daily, the Today’s Zaman newspaper and Samanyolu TV are among dozens of media outlets that were closed down by the government in the aftermath of the controversial failed coup attempt on July 15, 2016 due to their affiliation with the Gülen movement. The government accuses the group of masterminding the coup attempt, while the movement strongly denies the accusation.
Journalist brothers Ahmet Altan and Mehmet Altan, who were detained on Sept. 10, were previously accused of sending “subliminal” messages regarding the failed coup attempt on a TV show a day before the putsch. After spending 12 days in detention, journalist and academic Mehmet Altan was arrested by an İstanbul court on Sept. 22, 2016 while his brother Ahmet Altan was released under judicial supervision. Police detained Ahmet Altan later the same day after the İstanbul 1st Penal Court of Peace issued a warrant for his detention.
Ahmet Altan was arrested by an İstanbul court on Sept. 23, 2016 for allegedly “attempting a coup” and “membership in ‘FETÖ’,” a term the government coined to refer to the faith-based Gülen movement. The Altan brothers are prominent journalists who have been unequivocally critical of the regime of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.
Ahmet Altan is a novelist and former editor-in-chief of the Taraf newspaper. The daily ran headlines that led to the Ergenekon and Balyoz coup plot investigations, which helped the Justice and Development Party (AKP) government suppress the role of the military in Turkish politics. After quitting Taraf, Altan resumed writing harsh critical columns against the increasingly authoritarian AKP government and President Erdoğan.
Mehmet Altan, a professor of economics at İstanbul University, is also a columnist known for his liberal views and criticism of the government amid increasing and unprecedented pressure on the media and dissidents. He was recently targeted by pro-Erdoğan columnist Hilal Kaplan for not being dismissed from his position at the university at a time when hundreds of academics and teachers were being expelled from their posts as part of an investigation into the failed coup attempt.
While facing three aggravated life sentences for the charges, the journalists also face an additional prison term of 15 years on the charge of “committing crimes on behalf of a terrorist organization without being a member.” Their alleged offence, leaked to pro-government media, was for that they had given “subliminal” messages in support of a coup d’état during a television program aired one night before the July 15 coup attempt. The two writers were accused of being members of the terrorist organization behind the July 15 coup and of attempting to overthrow the government of the Republic of Turkey or attempting to prevent it from performing its duties.
Evidence of their crime included articles written by Ahmet and Mehmet Altan during the years 2008 and 2010. These were considered “instrument in the execution of a crime” and their inclusion in the investigation file showed an unlawful determination to have the two writers arrested. Despite being accused of such a horrendous crime as “membership in an armed terror group,” the journalists were not presented with any evidence suggesting they had actually participated in an alleged terror group membership at any point.
Turkey is the leading jailer of journalists in the world. The Stockholm Center for Freedom (SCF) has documented that 264 journalists are now in jails as of June 16, most in pre-trial detention languishing in notorious Turkish prisons without even a conviction. Of those in Turkish prisons, 240 are arrested pending trial, only 24 journalists remain convicted and serving time in Turkish prisons. An outstanding detention warrants remain for 105 journalists who live in exile or remain at large in Turkey.
Detaining tens of thousands of people over alleged links to the movement, the government also closed down more than 180 media outlets after the controversial coup attempt.
A controversial military coup attempt on July 15 killed over 240 people. Immediately after the putsch, the Justice and Development Party (AKP) government along with Turkey’s autocratic President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan pinned the blame on the Gülen movement.
Fethullah Gülen, who inspired the movement, strongly denied having any role in the failed coup and called for an international investigation into it, but President Erdoğan — calling the coup attempt “a gift from God” — and the government initiated a widespread purge aimed at cleansing sympathizers of the movement from within state institutions, dehumanizing its popular figures and putting them in custody.
At least 161,751 people were detained or investigated and 50,334 people were arrested in Turkey in the framework of the Turkish government’s massive post-coup witch hunt campaign targeting alleged members of the Gülen movement since the controversial coup attempt on July 15, 2016, according to statistics reported by state-run Anadolu news agency by basing on information taken from the officials from Turkey’s Justice Minsitry on June 13.
June 23, 2017
A Portrait of the Indictment as Judicial Porn
You can read the full text of Ahmet Altan’s defence statement here.
This sorry excuse for an indictment lacking in not only intelligence but also a respect for law is too feeble to draw the immense weight of the aggravated life sentence it requests and does not deserve a serious defence.
However, reading this indictment’s lies about me helped me to better understand what a massacre of the law the thousands of people who have been imprisoned since 15 July have been subjected to. Since I cannot be the only person who has been lied about, we may well assume that such untruthful indictments have crawled across and strangled the whole of the judiciary like poison ivy.
The recklessness of the prosecutor who authored this untruthful and nonsensical indictment proves this has become a habit of the justice system.
When you read this indictment you can easily see that places like this edifice that we call a Palace of Justice – a place with defendants, defendants’ chairs, armed members of the gendarmerie, judges’ podiums and cloaks – have been turned into a slaughterhouse for the law.
As Mehmet Altan likes to say, “one can see all the diseases of the body by examining a single drop of blood.”
Now as we examine this indictment, this single drop of blood, we will see along with the rest of the world that the justice system has been infected with leprosy and disfigured by skin sores.
Through a step-by-step examination of this indictment, I will show you the terrifying disease the justice system has contracted.
I will not do this because I naively assume that an independent and judicious justice system exists in Turkey today.
I am certainly well aware that we live in an era of shame and tyranny in which people released by the court are arrested again as soon as they step out of the door of that very courtroom, that I am both witnessing and being accused by this tyranny which has attempted a massacre of the law in the hands of lawyers.
But I believe in the Latin proverb that the law sometimes sleeps, but never dies. I know the rule of law which has been shot, wounded, is bleeding and comatose, will eventually heal and make its comeback.
The politicians and lawyers who are nowadays at the helm in Turkey may think only about the present day and assume – like the generals of the February 28 coup – that this day will last “a thousand years.” But I know tomorrow is coming; it always does.
Therefore I will shred this so-called indictment, this rootless and baseless text into pieces in order to leave a document for the days when oppression will be over and the law will be back. All that I will tell you here I will tell with the intention to present you with a counter-indictment.
Now let us turn to these sheets of legal anomaly – this so-called indictment.
What does the indictment say?
Aside from a few of my columns and a single TV appearance, this indictment bases our “putschism” on this claim:
We are said to know the men who are alleged to know the men who are alleged to have directed the coup.
I believe this summary sounds ridiculous even to you, but apart from my few columns and TV comments this strange and ridiculous claim is the basis of the whole thing.
There are said to be some men who directed this coup… There are said to be some men who knew these men… And we are said to know those men.
I know it is very difficult to believe but this is what the indictment sets out in all those pages.
First, let me ask this: How can “knowing” someone be accepted as the evidence of a crime?
If you know a criminal does that make you a criminal, too?
If your neighbour is tried for counterfeiting will you also be tried for counterfeiting because you know him? And if your neighbour divorced his wife will you also be considered divorced from your wife because you know your neighbour?
Shouldn’t you have done the act yourself or participated in it to be accused of that act, to be held responsible for it?
Is it not necessary that there would be proof of your participation in that act?
Of course, it is.
Well, is there such proof?
Of course not.
There is only demagoguery based on lies.
Even the allegation, which will not be the proof of a crime even if it were true, is a lie.
At the beginning, the indictment reports that I wrote a weekly column in a news site owned by Said Sefa, “a leader of the terrorist organisation.”
To our knowledge, there isn’t a final court ruling on Said Sefa yet. However the prosecutor begins making his case as if there were such a ruling.
Generally, this sort of thing is called a perception management operation. It is not called the law.
But let us assume Said Sefa is guilty.
If the owner of a newspaper commits fraud or shoots his wife, or gets involved in a coup, is everyone who writes columns and news stories in that newspaper automatically viewed as partners in that crime?
I seem to remember having heard of a concept called “individual criminal responsibility.”
Did you also kill this concept when you shot at the law?
In order to make such an opening statement in an indictment, you will first have to prove and have a ruling on Said Sefa’s crime and then prove my participation in that crime.
Is there such a proof?
Of course not.
In fact as you will see through the entire indictment, the prosecutor who authored it does not feel the need to busy himself with such minor details as proof.
He has accused, has he not? Is that not enough? What proof do you want?
In this indictment instead of proof one finds the prosecutor’s accusations only, and those too are lies.
After this beginning comes the testimony of someone called Ahmet Keleş. It is summarised in such a confusing manner that it is rather difficult to understand what this witness said.
As far as I understand, this Ahmet Keleş claims that the Gezi incidents were a conspiracy and that fact can be better understood once one reads “the columns by the Taraf newspaper columnist Ahmet Altan.”
There is a small problem here.
At the time of the Gezi incidents I had long resigned from the Taraf newspaper. I was at home writing a novel.
You might find it a bit hard to understand the progress of the Gezi incidents by reading my columns, because I was not writing columns in the period that preceded Gezi.
Of course, neither the prosecutor nor his lying witness care about such tiny details.
I resigned from Taraf in 2012, yet they still talk about my Taraf columns, i.e. my non-existent columns, during Gezi in 2013 and shamelessly write this into the indictment.
I was not writing for Taraf at the time but if I were I would certainly have supported Gezi. I believe the Gezi incidents addressed the conscience of the State and the people. Gezi could not find a place in the conscience of the State – if that conscience exists at all. But it did find its place in the conscience of the people. It was a movement without organisation and leaders, a movement born from within people, a movement that was intelligent, courageous and peaceful. As far as I know it has no precedent in our history.
Had the prosecutor asked me what I thought of the Gezi incidents instead of writing such lies, I would have told him this. He would have saved himself from the disgrace of writing such short-lived lies into his indictment.
The same witness also said that during the Uludere incidents I put a headline at the top of the newspaper that read “The State bombs its people.”
For this, there is no need for a witness. That headline remains on the front page of that day’s paper. I put it there in 2011. I was tried and convicted for it. I am the only person who was convicted because of the Roboski incidents. Not those who bombed the villagers, not those who gave the orders to bomb, just I was convicted.
And yes, I think exactly the same way today. The State bombed its people. They killed poor people.
But what does this have to do with the 15 July coup? How does this issue find itself a place in the indictment? You will have to ask that question to the prosecutor whose mind is quite confused.
This Ahmet Keleş said something else.
According to Keleş, a person came just before the Gezi incidents and said not to “borrow money in dollars.” That was a message from the organisation leader called “Hocaefendi.”
Since the prosecutor writes in such a terribly confused manner I did not understand if that message was sent to Ahmet Keleş or myself.
If that message was sent to Keleş, what do we care?
What does this have to do with an indictment against me?
On the other hand, if it is alleged that the message was intended for me the matter becomes ridiculous.
Why would Fethullah Gülen send a message to a man writing a novel at his home and tell him “not to borrow money in dollars”?
Indeed, why would I borrow money in dollars at all? Am I a contractor? Never in my life have I borrowed money in dollars or any other currency. I live according to my means. I do not borrow money.
If they are suggesting I borrowed money for the Taraf newspaper, by that time I had long since resigned from Taraf.
No matter how you try you cannot make sense of it. But the prosecutor does not care about being sensible. He wrote whatever came to his mind. The indictment has become an utterly confusing soup of lies.
Just below, there are the words of a secret witness called Osman Bey.
Osman Bey is reported to have said that people from the “Cemaat” had posted anti-government Twitter messages during the Gezi protests from fake accounts.
I do not understand how sending Twitter messages can be considered to be the crime of putschism.
I do not at all understand what in the world this has to do with me.
I have never tweeted in my life; neither from a real nor a fake account.
What does this claim have to do with me or with this indictment? Is there anyone out there who understands this?
Because of such nonsense we have been languishing in jail for months. Worse yet, they also want to imprison us for life.
There it is; this is what they call “the law” these days.
I take you through all these things in such detail because I want everyone to see the recklessness with which this prosecutor and his like have darkened people’s lives, how they have abused their power. I want all this to be documented for the day the law wakes up.
Following Osman Bey there comes the testimony of a man called Nurettin Veren. This is the first witness statement related to the allegation that we know the men who are alleged to know the men who are alleged to have directed the coup.
This Nurettin Veren says that Alaattin Kaya established contact between Fethullah Gülen and Mehmet Altan, Nazlı Ilıcak and myself, and that he knows that we all met frequently. Pay attention, he says he “knows” this.
Well, I don’t know this man Nurettin Veren personally but I know he is a crook. In an instant, I will prove to you that he is a crook.
After 15 July I watched this man on live TV.
In that show he said that I produced a TV show that aired twice a week on one of the Cemaat channels – I don’t remember which channel he said, either Mehtap or Samanyolu – and that I was paid 3000 dollars per show.
He said this without blinking an eye, with a confidence that would have made you think he paid me that money himself. Then I saw that he repeated this lie in his testimony which is included in the indictment.
Please pay attention to what I will tell you now:
I have not produced a single TV show in two decades.
The prosecutor included in his indictment the testimony of a man with such ease at telling lies.
This man says he “knows” that Alaattin Kaya established contact between Fethullah Gülen and us and that we contacted Kaya frequently.
And our prosecutor does not ask how he knows this.
He does not ask if there is any proof of this.
Not only does he not ask, but neither does he include any proof of this allegation in the indictment.
The prosecutor is confused enough first to quote this testimony in the indictment and then to prove that it is a bunch of lies by means of another document he has put in the indictment.
If the prosecutor read the indictment he had authored he would have taken out these words, which are so clearly untrue. But the prosecutor cannot be bothered even to read his own work.
Now please also listen to this carefully:
They have examined Mehmet Altan’s and my phone records for a period of 10 years. They have made a list of all the phone conversations we had with Alaattin Kaya and included that in the indictment.
Do you know how many times in 10 years we have talked to Alaattin Kaya with whom we are said to speak frequently?
Mehmet Altan spoke with Kaya only once in 2008.
And I talked to him only twice, once in 2010, once in 2012.
Even if we had spoken with this man more often, that would not have been proof of any crime.
But what this indictment says about this uncriminal act is itself a lie.
Speaking with a man once or twice in ten years – how could this be considered “frequent” contact?
I have now given up hope on the law; I am looking now for a sense of shame. But to no avail! Indeed, in order to screw the law the lawyers first have to lose their sense of shame. If the lawyers had not lost their sense of shame, they would not be telling lies so easily and could not wage enmity against the law and justice with such ease.
Our prosecutor is so overexcited that he has written Nurettin Veren’s testimony into the indictment twice. It seems he cannot get enough of these lies.
Because the prosecutor’s mind is so confused, the indictment he wrote jumps and skips, it blows hot and cold. Of course, it is not that easy to write so many lies.
I will do what the prosecutor has not done and put this indictment in an order; I will first get to the bottom of this business of “acquaintance” and then deal with the Sledgehammer and Ergenekon issues.
Unable to have any narrative discipline, not even the simple order of paragraphs that a school essay requires, the prosecutor talks about my columns, Sledgehammer, and then Ergenekon only to return to his favourite subject: the allegation that we know the men who are alleged to know to men who are alleged to have directed the coup.
And Alaattin Kaya seems to be his favourite in this context.
On this, he really cannot stop lying.
Now a secret witness emerges in the indictment with the code name Söğüt [Willow]. What a beautiful, elegant codename they have chosen!
This Söğüt drives Alaattin Kaya to Taraf newspaper’s building and back and, according to his own testimony, he waits for Kaya downstairs. He says Alaattin Kaya met with Başar Arslan, Mehmet Baransu and myself fortnightly.
Here a simple question presents itself:
How can the man who waits downstairs know that Alaattin Kaya meets with Mehmet Baransu and me?
Look, Taraf newspaper used to be prepared on a single floor of a building. Başar Arslan had a room upstairs, but everyone who prepared the newspaper including myself worked on the floor below. I had an office of my own. Everyone who worked at the newspaper could come in anytime. Everyone nested together.
We had our morning meetings in the middle of the large hall of the newspaper so that everyone, even the interns, could follow the discussions. Everyone who worked at the newspaper could express their opinion on the news stories at hand.
We used to prepare the front page of the newspaper in the editorial office where everyone could enter easily.
It is simply impossible that anything that had to do with Taraf’s content could be kept secret.
The prosecutor could have asked anyone who used to work at Taraf about this?
Why hasn’t he?
Or did he ask but just not write the answers he received here?
I have seen Alaattin Kaya two or three times in my whole life.
In fact, I wrote in the newspaper that I met him.
My father said this in one of his public speeches: “I tell my most secret words to Taksim Square.” That is also what he taught us to do. We have no secret business. We share with our readers everything but our private lives. That is what we have always done.
Both Mehmet Altan and myself have been officially followed by the State’s intelligence services for years.
If there were any secret business in our lives, even as tiny as a grain of dust, they would have smashed our faces in it.
In fact, this is why the prosecutor cannot find anything concrete to accuse us of. He keeps squirming.
There is an allegation in this Willow’s testimony that made me angry. In fact, I am angry about many things, but I will tell you only one of them.
We are said to have published content that was critical of the AKP [Justice and Development Party] after each visit to the newspaper by Alaattin Kaya.
Since when is it a crime to publish content that is critical of the AKP? How can my criticism of the AKP and my warnings to a political party about their mistakes be included in this indictment as the proof of putschism?
But this is not what I am angry about.
What I am angry about is that the prosecutor says that I would criticize the AKP because “someone” would order me to do it. He should be ashamed of saying such a thing.
I have been writing columns in this country for thirty-five years. My political line has not moved even a millimetre. I support whoever demands democracy and the rule of law and I criticise all those who oppose democracy and the rule of law.
He should have first looked at what I wrote 10, 20, and 30 years ago before he wrote such things into his indictment. He should have read what this man whom he demands to be imprisoned for life has written all his life.
I am not on trial for the first time. I have been through nearly 300 trials. I was tried for what I wrote.
Under whose orders am I supposed to have written those columns?
Who is supposed to have made me write those columns that led to so many trials?
Under whose orders am I supposed to have fought against the military tutelage? Do I need someone to tell me to criticise the AKP? Why would there be need for someone’s orders to criticise a political party that has brought down the whole country with wrong-headed policies?
You can throw me in the jail, you can ignore the law, but you cannot act with such impertinence and disrespect. I won’t allow it.
The books I wrote have reached millions of readers, been translated into 17 languages, and my last novel came out first in Italy then in the United States during my time in prison.
I did not write all those books to be subjected to the insolence of a prosecutor with no consideration for others.
A man who is unable to compose an orderly indictment, who cannot even write in his mother tongue, who turns up and says to a writer of 35 years: “You wrote those columns because you were ordered to write them.”
We have forgotten the law, but we should at least remember our manners.
This prosecutor wrote such an indictment that it dissolves in your hands regardless of which part of it you try to hold.
According to Willow’s testimony in the indictment, my relationship with Alaattin Kaya continued until 17-25 December 2013. Up to that time, Kaya is said to have brought me dossiers and closed envelopes.
But by 17-25 December 2013, it had been over a year since I resigned from Taraf newspaper.
It is as clear as that.
Isn’t the prosecutor who authored this indictment at all curious about “when this Ahmet Altan resigned from Taraf”?
How can he write such an obvious lie into his indictment?
There you have the situation in which the law and the lawyers find themselves today: out and out recklessness; out and out lies; out and out shamelessness.
The prosecutor is not even worried that he will be called out for his lies so soon, because it is not important to him whether his statements are true or not. What is important to him is to keep us in jail. He thinks these lies will be enough to keep us in jail. Indeed, he has been able to keep us in jail with these lies.
This is where the law finds itself in Turkey today.
The prosecutor has also talked about the business relations between Başar Arslan and Alaattin Kaya in his indictment. A printing press was bought and sold between them.
Başar Arslan was the publisher of my books for a period of time. He was also the publisher of Taraf newspaper where I was the managing editor until 2012.
Başar was a smart, witty, hard-working person whose friendship I used to enjoy. But it is difficult to work with me and after working together for five years our friendship was exhausted. In 2012, I resigned from the newspaper; we never saw each other again.
I by no means believe that Başar Arslan has anything to do with either the coup or the putschists. I will not believe this unless concrete evidence is presented.
On the other hand, what do I care about the transactions between a businessman whom I have not seen, run into, or talked with since 2012 and another businessman?
If there is anything illegal in their transactions go to the Commercial Court.
What is the transaction involving a printing press, which I have never visited, or even know its whereabouts, doing in an indictment against me?
The prosecutor claims that Taraf “had continuously published content favouring the terrorist organisation.”
I absolutely love such vague, useless, and empty statements being paraded before us as law.
What the prosecutor calls “the terrorist organisation” is the organisation that was known as the “Cemaat” at the time when I was working as a journalist.
He claims I “continuously published content that favoured” it. Someone else could also turn up and say that I “continuously published content that was against the Cemaat.”
In fact, the Cemaat had complained about the content of our publication and sent their members to us to express that complaint. I, in return, wrote about their visit and displeasure in the paper so that our readers knew about it.
Now let’s come back to the law.
What is the alleged crime that is at the root of this indictment?
When was that crime committed?
On 15 July 2016.
When did I quit journalism?
Can news reports that were published at least 4 years before the date of the crime provide the proof of that crime?
At no time in its life, did Taraf newspaper “continuously publish content that was favourable to the Cemaat.”
Even if it had, this would not have been a crime.
If the prosecutor wants to look at content and rhetoric that were “continuously favourable to the organisation,” he will have to turn his gaze to the AKP.
He will have to look at Tayyip Erdoğan who expressed his “fondness” for Fethullah Gülen in a meeting organised by the Cemaat. He will have to look at the current Minister of Justice who defended Gülen from the rostrum at the parliament, moving Heaven and Earth.
They are the ones who always defended the Cemaat.
If this is a crime why aren’t they under arrest? If this is not a crime what is it doing in its indictment?
Is there a coherent answer to this question?
Can the law be incoherent?
It can’t be.
To put forward accusations that have no coherence whatsoever and are not based on any evidence is to ravish the law.
Indeed, this prosecutor has made ravishing the law such a habit that our indictment has turned into pornography of the law.
There are two more names mentioned as part of the allegation that “we know the men who are alleged to know the men who are alleged to have directed the coup.”
One of them is Önder Aytaç.
When I met Önder Aytaç he was an advisor to the AKP government and a staff lecturer at the Police Academy.
He told me he wanted to write for Taraf. Since I wanted as diverse a range of columnists as possible, I said “alright.”
Önder Aytaç, whose name was written into the indictment by the prosecutor in order to somehow tie me to the coup, happens to be the only columnist I fired.
I stopped his columns in the newspaper because he said, “Apo [Abdullah Öcalan] should be executed.” In Taraf there was room for all opinions except for those that called for death and the killing of human beings, or those who called on the State to commit murder.
The prosecutor wrote that I talked with Önder Aytaç on the phone, but he did not write which year and how many times I talked to him.
Why didn’t he write that?
If he had mentioned the period and the total number of my conversations with Aytaç the nonsense of the indictment would have been even more obvious. I guess that is why he did not mention that.
The third name is Ekrem Dumanlı.
Now, while I am not friends with Alaattin Kaya and Önder Aytaç, I do have a friendly relationship with Ekrem Dumanlı.
Ekrem is a journalist who has a sense and appreciation for literature, cinema, boxing, and soccer – subjects that I also like.
I always liked talking to him. Once or twice we dined together. And once, we went to watch a Beşiktaş soccer match.
If I deserve three life sentences because of talking with Ekrem Dumanlı on the phone, I must deserve fifty life sentences or so for going to watch the Beşiktaş match with him.
During the time that I used to talk to Ekrem, I was the managing editor of Taraf and Ekrem was the managing editor of Zaman newspaper.
At the time, I did not talk only to Zaman’s executives, but also those of other dailies such as Sabah and Star. Taraf had problems. We were looking for affordable paper, printing presses and distribution opportunities. To be honest, no one really helped us much; perhaps they were not able to. Our problems never ended.
Now I will say two things about these “acquaintances.”
First of all, those men whose names are quoted in the indictment – as if “knowing” them is a major crime – are not drovers, middlemen or builders.
These are people who are part of the news media. In the world of the news media everyone knows everyone a little bit, and people do meet and talk.
There is nothing strange, abnormal or criminal about people of the same professional world talking to each other.
This is in line with the natural flow of life.
Here is my second point:
Have a look at the number of times I talked to Ekrem Dumanlı and if that figure is higher than the number of times Ekrem travelled on Tayyip Erdoğan’s plane then we can discuss whether talking to Dumanlı is a crime or not.
But if Dumanlı talked to Erdoğan ten times more than he talked to me, then do not come to me with such nonsense.
It is not a crime when Erdoğan talks to a person, but it is a crime if I talk to that same person; is that right?
Is this the law here, the logic, the intelligence?
What is this other than utter nonsense?
I will say one more thing on this before I move on to more serious matters.
Many a prosecutor these days – including our prosecutor –considers talking to “the accused” to be a criminal act.
They don’t present the proof of a “criminal partnership”. Instead they deem a “conversation” itself to be a criminal act.
It is not a crime to talk to people who are accused or even convicted of a crime. If it were, anyone who visits a prisoner would be put on trial.
There is no rule of law that deems talking to the accused a crime in itself.
We cannot find a legal provision for this new practice in the law.
We can only find such a provision in the institutional act of “excommunication” practiced by the Catholic Church.
Your Honour, this is the year 2017. Is our system of law following the example of a Catholic practice from the Middle Ages?
Are people excommunicated simply because they are accused by a prosecutor?
Is this the situation the rule of law finds itself in today?
Now let us turn to slightly more serious matters.
Let’s first start with this Sledgehammer issue.
Let us look and see what Sledgehammer was. Was it a “conspiracy” as people can’t get enough of saying?
Let us figure out who appointed the generals, who staged the coup on 15 July 2016, and how?
Who committed the “crime” of appointing them to those positions?
In fact, about whom was this indictment written while disguising itself as an indictment against me?
Whom is the prosecutor really accusing when he says he is accusing me?
Let us look and see what is going on here.
The prosecutor begins the Sledgehammer discussion with some extraordinarily strategic opening paragraphs that suggest some “careful” preparation quite different from the general lack of acumen and order that characterises the rest of the indictment.
He plants into the indictment a very interesting description of a crime, which has nothing to do with me as you, too, will see in a moment.
Now the principals of the AKP and the members of the Supreme Military Council, and above all Tayyip Erdoğan himself should listen very carefully.
Because this part concerns them more than it concerns me.
Together, let us read that very interesting description of a crime that the prosecutor writes just after listing the news headlines from Taraf’s coverage of the Sledgehammer coup:
“…That the Sledgehammer investigation was thus opened and consequently the officers within the Turkish Armed Forces who were not members of the terrorist organisation were purged to be replaced by members of that organisation, and that in the process that followed, the organisation, by way of these so-called investigations, has embedded its members in critically important positions within the Turkish Armed Forces and laid its own groundwork for the coup attempt of 15/7/2016.” [Emphasis added]
What is the crime described by the prosecutor?
The purge of the officers who were not members of the “terrorist organisation” and their replacement by the officers who are members of the organisation… And, during this “process” the organisation laid the groundwork for the 15 July coup by embedding its own members in critically important positions.
This is the crime.
Purging the officers who were not members of the organisation, replacing them by the members of the organisation and laying the groundwork for the coup.
The prosecutor places a very interesting word into this description of a crime:
“In the process,” he says.
Which process is this?
Is he talking about the six year “process” between 2010 and 2016?
The crime was committed during this 6 year “process”.
During this 6-year process, the “culprits” purged some soldiers and appointed some soldiers thus laying the groundwork for the 15 July coup.
The prosecutor puts this question in front of us, a question begging for a response:
Who committed this crime in this 6-year process?
With a mind-boggling “naiveté”, the prosecutor says that I committed this crime.
He gives an unintelligent answer to an intelligent question, but the absurdity of the answer does not erase the burning question.
I published the news stories about the Sledgehammer coup. The sole responsibility of the publication of those stories is mine. I was the managing editor of that newspaper and no one else but me could have decided to publish those stories.
Later, I will answer the question of whether publishing those stories was a crime or not.
But first, let’s find who the “culprit” is in the purges and promotions which the prosecutor says were carried out during the “6 year period.”
Allow me to ask a question first.
Does a news story published in 2010 give a newspaper the ability to carry out all of the military purges, appointments and promotions that took place during this 6-year process?
Can I decide on all the appointments and promotions that took place until 2016 because I published a story in 2010?
Better yet, can I do all this by quitting journalism in 2012?
No matter how devilish a mind, how strategic a wiz, how pernicious an ill will he has no one alone can determine a 6-year process.
A journalist above all cannot do this.
For so many appointments, promotions and purges to be carried out during a 6-year process people with large authoritative powers within the State should work in an organised manner.
So, who worked in this organised manner during the 6-year process?
The answer is not difficult to come up with. The answer is crystal clear.
Whoever has their signature on those appointment and promotion papers did this work.
Is my signature there under any of those decisions of appointment and promotion?
No, it is not.
So, whose signature is there?
There are the signatures of the chiefs of staff, of the members of the Supreme Military Council, of the members of the government, of the prime ministers and of the presidents who served during this “process.”
And there is only one signature that never changed during this 6-year process.
The signature of Tayyip Erdoğan, first as the prime minister and then as the president.
The prosecutor describes the crime, tells us that the crime was committed during a “process,” points at who the culprits are, then turns around and demands that I should be punished.
I am asking once again: What is the crime described by the prosecutor?
Promoting the generals, who were to stage a coup in 2016, to critical positions and purging the other officers.
Am I able to see to it that generals are promoted or purged? Do I have any such power or authority?
No, I don’t.
When was this “crime” committed?
Between 2010 and 2016.
Did I play any role in that period?
No, I didn’t.
In addition to that, the “military purge law” was passed in 2015. CHP MP Muammer Erkek reminded us of this as he spoke on CNN Turk on 6 June 2017.
Furthermore, the Ankara Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office authored an indictment in which they held that two new laws that were passed after the 17-25 December incidents not only facilitated the purges in the military but also paved the way for the promotion of the putschist generals. A column by Mehmet Tezkan reminded me of this on 7 June 2017.
Doesn’t our prosecutor know these?
Could I be responsible for that law that was passed by the parliament in 2015?
I am not the one who committed the crime; I am not there during the process of the crime. Well, then why does this prosecutor include an accusation that has nothing to do with me in an indictment against me?
Is there anyone who can give a reasonable answer to this question?
I suppose not.
This accusation looks as if it has escaped from another indictment and taken temporary refuge in mine.
Well, there could be one thing that explains why this accusation is in an indictment against me.
The prosecutor might allege that I am the secret leader of an organisation, which consists of Erdoğan himself, as well the cabinet ministers of the AKP, and the military generals.
Only this can explain the presence of such an accusation in an indictment against me.
I must confess that this would be a rather interesting allegation, one that would attract the attention of the whole world.
But I don’t think the prosecutor can be saying something like this.
So what is this issue doing in an indictment against me?
Now that we have seen the absurdity of including this accusation in an indictment against me, let us turn to the part of the Sledgehammer coup that really has something to do with me: the Sledgehammer news story that I published and some call “conspiracy.”
The prosecutor, too, calls the Sledgehammer a “conspiracy” and claims that I committed the crime of “putschism” by publishing that story.
I won’t even mention the Constitutional Court ruling that publishing such news stories does not constitute a criminal act. My attorneys can talk about that.
Instead, I will settle up once and for all with everyone who calls the Sledgehammer news story a “conspiracy” including this prosecutor.
First, let’s look at what the “Sledgehammer” affair was, and when and under what circumstances it was executed.
Sledgehammer is a “martial law preparation” seminar that was held in 2003 at a time when Şenkal Atasagun, the then-head of the MIT [Turkish National Intelligence Service], told Mustafa Balbay that the “First Army was ready for the coup” and the general chief of staff of the time asked the commander of the First Army: “Are you preparing for a coup?”
Since the general staff was aware of the preparations of the First Army, they gave orders to the its commander “to stay away from discussing martial law preparations and making any arrangements that involved domestic problems.”
Not satisfied with one order, they send a second order as well.
What do the generals of the First Army do?
They disobey both orders.
They act in clear noncompliance with their orders.
The affair starts with the disobedience of generals.
So what kind of preparations do these generals make when they meet?
Plans and preparations to arrest the political party leaders, to purge and replace the mayors who they name one by one, to decide which stadiums will be used to house the 200,000 people they plan to arrest, and “in order to draw the public to their side” to start a skirmish with Greece.
There is quite a bit more that they prepare for but I think just listing this much will suffice.
The discussions of these preparations are recorded by officers under their commanders’ orders.
My proof that the generals did indeed make these preparations is not the CDs whose authenticity is disputed. It is the recordings made by those very officers.
Whoever listens to those recordings will learn, with horror, of these preparations.
In 2010, Mehmet Baransu came to me and said, “Preparations were carried out for a coup.”
I asked, “Is there any documentation of it?”
“There is,” he said.
“If there are documents, bring them and let us examine them,” I said.
A few days later, he brought in these recordings along with some CDs that included images of written documents.
We listened to the recordings of the seminar and examined the written documents in the CDs.
We were convinced that they were accurate and we published them.
That is it.
Now there is a question everyone who calls the Sledgehammer news story a “conspiracy” must answer.
A simple question.
This is a question to be answered by the prosecutor who authored this indictment as well as the people in these chambers, and the journalists, TV anchors and politicians who call the Sledgehammer news story a “conspiracy”:
Would it be legal and natural today for the generals of the First Army to gather and – in clear disobedience of the general staff’s orders that state “You should never make preparations concerning domestic issues” – make preparations to arrest “all political party leaders”?
Would you say that “the First Army’s generals can gather today to make plans to arrest politicians, remove mayors, arrest 200,000 people and fill stadiums with them, start skirmishes with Greece and nobody can say anything”?
You will answer me loud and clear.
Would you say “the First Army’s generals do have the right to gather and plan the arrest of politicians” today?
If you are saying “Yes, of course, they can make such plans; of course, they can disobey the orders of the general staff,” then say it clearly.
Say it so that I and everyone else can hear it.
But if you cannot say this and instead you are saying “No way! How in the world could generals make arrangements to arrest politicians,” then you cannot call the Sledgehammer a “conspiracy.”
None of you can call it so.
Neither can this prosecutor.
If you agree that it is a crime today for the generals to make such preparations, you will also have to agree that it is also a crime that this was done in 2003.
And it is not only the right but also the duty of a journalist to publish the documentary evidence of a crime once he comes across it.
Let me ask yet another question:
Should a journalist come across documentary evidence of such preparations by generals today, is he to publish them?
Or should he keep quiet?
Answer these questions loud and clear.
It is up to nobody to label the Sledgehammer stories a “conspiracy” before answering these questions. It is not up to the prosecutor either.
Over and above, the current Prime Minister, the Minister of Justice and the Chief Justice of the Court of Cassation all think as I do that those news stories were not a “conspiracy.” They say this clearly.
This is one of the rare issues on which I agree with them.
The prosecutor who attempts to accuse me with putschism because I stated that the Sledgehammer seminar was “preparation for a coup” does not make a criminal complaint against the Prime Minister, the Minister of Justice or the Chief Justice of the Court of Cassation.
Why doesn’t he?
If what I said is a crime so is what they are saying. If what they are saying is not a crime, neither is what I said.
There is nothing too complex about this issue.
Despite these obvious facts how can you attempt to accuse me for publishing the Sledgehammer plans and calling the Sledgehammer seminar preparation for a coup?
Explain to me the legal and logical reasons behind this conflict.
Because there is no legal or logical explanation to this nonsense.
Neither this prosecutor nor journalists, TV anchors and politicians can escape these questions.
Throwing me in jail is not enough to save them from these questions.
I should also remind this prosecutor and everyone else what Tayyip Erdoğan had said referring to the taped discussions at the Sledgehammer seminar: “I was shocked when I listened to those discussions.” Go and ask him why he was shocked.
You don’t care about the generals’ incompliance with the orders of the general staff, you don’t listen to the horrifying speeches they made, you don’t look at the arrest papers listing name after name. No, you just shrug it all off, call it a “conspiracy,” and on top of that you attempt to accuse me with this nonsense.
Who is to judge me, and with what right, before answering the questions I ask?
Is there anyone who would like to answer these questions?
I don’t mean in this courtroom. In the whole country, is there anyone who would like to answer my questions?
I doubt that there is anyone who will or can come forward to answer these questions loud and clear.
At the time I published the Sledgehammer stories, the system of military tutelage was still in place.
As the AKP has its own media now, the military tutelage used to have its own media then.
Similar to today’s cowardly and calculating journalists who try to ingratiate themselves with the AKP, the cowardly and calculating journalists used to try to ingratiate themselves with generals.
If those journalists had had the courage to publish the kind of stories like the Sledgehammer story I had published, this country would not have turned into the wasteland of coups that it has become today.
They never demonstrated that courage.
They turned their backs on the suffering of leftists, Kurds, intellectuals, writers and the genuinely devout people who were all crushed by the oppressive military tutelage system.
Now a major part of the media act in the same shameless manner during this AKP era.
It is one of the most significant tasks of a journalist to publish stories like the Sledgehammer story.
A journalist who chooses not to publish that story betrays himself, his profession, and his people.
Because I did not betray myself, my profession and my people, I was put on trial during the military tutelage era and I am put on trial today.
Unfortunately, this is the price of demanding democracy in this country.
In the indictment against me, the prosecutor also talked about the Ergenekon and Military Espionage cases. Because he is unable to write well in Turkish, it is quite difficult to understand what he is talking about.
But I assume he is accusing me of those things too, since he mentions them in the indictment, so I will respond briefly.
The news stories about the Military Espionage affair were not exclusive to Taraf newspaper. In fact, because we did not have a good grasp of that affair we refrained from reporting much on it.
This is not something that concerned our newspaper. I do not understand why the prosecutor mentions that case here.
When it comes to the Ergenekon trials…
The Ergenekon investigations began long before Taraf was launched.
Later on, we published reports on those trials along with other newspapers.
I most certainly believe that Ergenekon exists. What we call Ergenekon consists of the crime gangs that have been embedded in the State – groups like the Susurluk gang, like those who slaughtered 17,000 people in unsolved murders, like the power that organised the attack on the Council of State, like those who provoked the Malatya Zirve massacre and those who used to throw the corpses of the people they killed into the fields within the “Sapanca death triangle,’’ like the killing of Hrant Dink… I can keep on reciting many more crimes like these.
I most certainly supported the unveiling of these gangs. I still support it today.
Unfortunately, and not unlike the prosecutor who has diluted and derailed the 15 July investigation by writing this indictment, some people have also diluted and derailed the Ergenekon investigation.
The opportunity to decontaminate the State by excising these criminal organisations was squandered.
It is a pity!
Since we have already responded to the nonsense allegation that “we know the men who are alleged to know the men who are alleged to have directed the coup” and the distortions about the Sledgehammer issue, what is left now is three of my columns and a speech on the Can-Erzincan TV.
Now imagine a prosecutor who looks at three columns and a single TV appearance and detects there the crime of putschism carrying a life-term sentence. Imagine him doing this despite the universal rules of law that dictate that speech and the written word should not be criminalised.
In fact, the allegation that my writing and speeches are somehow related to putschism does not deserve to be taken seriously, but I will still answer these allegations one by one in order to demonstrate the frivolity of the justice system and how easy it is to throw people in jail here.
Alas! It is not that I don’t pity this prosecutor either! He was told to throw writers in jail and keep them there. In order to be able to do that, he has taken up the impossible task of associating us with the 15 July coup.
He begins with this nonsense: “You know the men who are said to know the men who are said to be putschists.”
As I have proven this assertion does not have legs.
Then, he turns to me and says: “You have appointed to top jobs the cadres behind the 2016 coup by way of news stories you published in 2010.”
Oh well, this does not make much sense either.
Finally, he leans on this assertion: “You knew there was going to be a coup.”
As far as I can understand, his reasoning works like this:
“You knew there was going to be a coup, that means the putschists had told you there was going to be a coup; since the putschists had told you this, that means you have a direct connection to the putschists; since you have a direct connection to the putschists, that means you are a supporter of and participant in the coup.”
This seems to be his sequential logic.
Well then, is this sequential logic based on any proof?
No, not even a single shred of evidence.
What do we have here then?
We have the prosecutor’s “opinion”; he seems to be saying: “This is what I sense.”
The prosecutor’s “sentiment” takes the place of evidence in our trial.
This is what the prosecutor has sensed, so let’s throw the writers in jail.
There you have it, this is the point to which the law has arrived.
Now let’s see what causes these sentiments in our sentimental prosecutor.
Since we have no evidence to talk about we will have to examine the speech on which the prosecutor has based his sentiments.
We will demonstrate that our prosecutor who has nothing to do with evidence and proof is also wrong in his “sentiment”.
Can you imagine? We are being judged and can be sentenced to life in a trial based on “sentiment”.
What provoked the prosecutor’s “sentiment” are the things I said on Can-Erzincan TV during a talk show hosted by Nazlı Ilıcak and Mehmet Altan.
As you know, the prosecutor, twisting and turning to throw us in jail, first sent the police to arrest us because we had given “subliminal messages” on that show.
When the claim of “subliminal messaging” was ridiculed not only in Turkey but also around the world this word “subliminal” disappeared as suddenly as an illusionist’s ball.
As if the prosecutor never made such a claim, as if we had not been kept in the lock-up at the Anti-Terror Department on that very claim, the word “subliminal” is forgotten.
In its place there emerges a new claim: “You knew about the coup.” This claim becomes the latest actor in the absurdist play written by the prosecutor.
Can a prosecutor write an indictment based on his opinion and sentiment?
Can people languish in jail because a prosecutor sensed something?
Can “aggravated life sentence” be sought for people because of a prosecutor’s sentiment?
According to the law, the answer to all these questions is “No.”
According to the law, there cannot be a court case that is without any criminal evidence and solely based on a prosecutor’s “sentiment.”
But this happens here.
And we end up having to respond to this nonsense.
Let us just ask to be pardoned by the God of Law for having to give serious answers to such frivolous questions and turn to that TV appearance.
As you know, the qualities of the guest usually determine the agenda on these talk shows.
There were two reasons why I was invited to be a guest on that TV programme.
The first was the publication of my last novel Dying is Easier than Loving.
On the background of the personal adventures of the characters, this novels tells the story of the Balkan Wars and the incompetence of the İttihatçı leaders who came to power as well as the brutalities they implemented in order to hide their failure to govern the country properly.
That is why the İttihatçı leaders of the day and the AKP government whose present-day policies are very similar to those of the İttihatçı leaders were discussed.
The other actual reason of my presence on the show was the Sledgehammer trial that was to start about a month and a half later, in which I was charged with 52 years in prison.
That is why the Sledgehammer issue was discussed.
And that is the reason for the conversation to have progressed on these two topics and their links to the actual politics of the day.
What I said that day is exactly what I still think today. There has not been an iota of change in what I think. Furthermore, I now see that all these developments have proven that my foresight was right.
In that speech on TV, I am saying that the AKP government is very similar to the İttihatçı [The Committee of Union and Progress/CUP] leaders in that they, too, were able to come to power but not to govern the country.
This is exactly the situation today.
AKP leaders have turned into a pious version of İttihatçı leaders. They have increased the oppression but are unable to govern the country.
Under the reign of the AKP, Turkey has been declining gradually day by day.
I say there that Enver Pasha and Erdoğan are alike. They really are very much alike. Enver made the Ottomans collapse with his delusion of becoming the leader of all the Turks in the world. Erdoğan has been leading Turkey into a real depression with his delusion of becoming the leader of all the Muslims in the world.
Today even Erdoğan himself does not stand by Erdoğan’s Syria and Middle East policies. Even the AKP leaders say they have made a mistake.
We are experiencing a foreign policy disaster that is of a scale that was unprecedented in the Republican era.
In that speech, I criticise Erdoğan’s statement in which he says, “All of the judiciary is subject to me.”
Indeed, whoever values the law would oppose that statement.
Now I turn to my two sentences that the prosecutor quoted in capital letters.
I say: “It is a crime for Erdoğan to say that he has become the President [with the powers bestowed upon the president in a presidential system] and someone will remember this in the future.”
I did not at all understand why the prosecutor has capitalised this sentence.
Erdoğan said he has become the “de facto President” [with the powers bestowed upon the president in a presidential system] and this statement is the proof that he has stepped beyond the constitutional limits.
Stepping beyond the Constitution, or ignoring the Constitution and the constitutional order, is a crime. Erdoğan has clearly confessed that he committed that crime.
Certainly, a State, if it is indeed a proper State, will not forget a crime that was committed. It cannot forget.
What can be more natural than stating this, reminding everyone of this fact?
Reminding people of the law and the judiciary, emphasizing their existence – how could this be considered to be a crime?
Erdoğan is the one committing a crime here. I am the one on trial for saying that he committed a crime.
And this is what some call “justice”.
To declare “de facto presidency” [with the powers bestowed upon the president in a presidential system] is a coup against the Constitution.
In fact, didn’t they also admit that they had to make these recent amendments to the Constitution so that the crime committed by Erdoğan becomes a legal act?
Didn’t Devlet Bahçeli emphasise the need to reconcile the “de facto situation” with the Constitution?
If the initial act were in line with the Constitution, why would there be the need to make amendments to the Constitution in order to reconcile that very act with the Constitution?
In a proper State “de facto situations” are not allowed; everyone is made to stay within the Law.
Whereas here, when a politician violates the Law, they change the Law to accommodate the politician.
There is another sentence the prosecutor has quoted in capital letters.
I say: “If a society and a State do not resist an illegal, illegitimate act of criminality, the outcome is never good.”
This sentence does not constitute a crime.
To say the opposite of that sentence would be nonsensical.
Why would it constitute a crime to say that a society and a State should resist a criminal act?
If you think this is a crime, go ahead and say the opposite of that sentence aloud.
Say this: “The society and the State should not resist, but should give into illegal acts of criminality.”
Can you say that?
If you can, how can you defend resisting the military coup – also an illegal act of criminality?
You would not be able to defend it.
Yet another sentence that was quoted from my speech in capital letters:
“I think they are working hand in hand today with military tutelage. Erdoğan and his men are realising all sorts of fantasies, which the system of military tutelage has longed for throughout its reign but never managed to carry through.”
Yes, this is exactly the situation today.
The generals of the military tutelage system sought to tear Turkey away from the developed world. Today, Erdoğan and the AKP are carrying that through.
The pashas sought to do away with the judiciary and the law. This is exactly what is being done today.
The pashas sought to send all dissenters and all democrats to prison. This is being done today.
The pashas sought to control all media. This is happening today.
Should I keep going?
What does stating these facts and talking about these similarities have to do with criminal acts and the coup?
How can speaking up against a return to the days of military tutelage be viewed as supporting a military coup?
By the way, the prosecutor has also capitalised the word each time I said “Erdoğan” in my speech.
Because he wants to tell you that I criticise Erdoğan and therefore should be in prison.
There you have the law of the new era:
“You cannot criticise Erdoğan. If you criticise him you will be sent to prison.”
I criticise Erdoğan and you throw me in jail.
This is not the rule of law.
What is this?
This is a de facto rule of law that agrees with de facto presidentialism.
This is committing a crime in the name of the law.
I am in jail not because I am a criminal. I am in jail because the criminals’ rule of law is in power.
Such things happen. You get thrown in jail because you defend the law and because you are right. And the culprit can disguise himself as a prosecutor.
But no one should be afraid or alarmed. This will not last very long. The law will wake up one day.
Now I read to you a sentence from my speech that the prosecutor did not quote in capital letters:
“They talk about it as if Erdoğan is here to stay all his life. Erdoğan will leave in two years. Elections are coming up, nobody can know what will happen in the elections in two years’ time.”
You probably understand why the prosecutor has not quoted this sentence in capital letters.
The man he alleges “to have known that there would be a coup the next day” is talking about Erdoğan leaving power by losing the elections in two years’ time.
How can a man who knows there will be a coup the next day give a “subliminal” message about that coup by saying “Erdoğan will be ousted in the elections two years later”?
Is it crime to say that a politician will be ousted in elections?
What sort of crime is it?
Besides, I still think exactly the same today.
Erdoğan will be ousted in elections.
There is no need for a coup to oust Erdoğan. Erdoğan’s policies prepare his departure.
It is like a Nasreddin Hodja joke.
You see him cutting the branch he is sitting on with his current policies. You say that. The prosecutor says: “How do you know that? You are putschist!”
Erdoğan will be removed from power not by a coup but because of the economy. I will tell you how this will happen a bit later.
Let us now keep reading our conversation as it was quoted in the indictment.
The prosecutor quotes a sentence from Mehmet Altan in capital letters.
Mehmet Altan says: “It is not even clear what will happen in this country within two years.”
“It is not clear. Should fifty MPs of the AKP decide to form a new party with Akşener, the whole system would be shaken. This man does not stand on solid ground.”
Of course, Meral Akşener’s name was not mentioned out of the blue.
In those days, Akşener and her friends were getting ready to gather their party convention to vote out and replace the executives of the MHP [Nationalist Movement Party].
One could see that they had some strong support among the party’s grassroots.
Not even a year has passed and it is now clear that our statements that day pointed at a very realistic possibility.
Erdoğan and the AKP leaders had the illusion that they would gain the support of 65% of the voters now that they had united with the MHP.
What happened at the referendum on 16 April?
Despite all the tricks, irregularities, pressure, and the bans they had put in place, the AKP and MHP managed to gain merely 51% of the vote.
Meral Akşener and her friends captured and carried the MHP grassroots.
Some MHP voters under the leadership of Akşener, some AKP voters, Saadet Party voters, Kurds who vote for the HDP, Vatan Party voters, and many small party voters under the leadership of the CHP came together to say “No” to both Erdoğan and his oppressive regime.
Was Erdoğan standing on solid ground?
Half of the society did not shrink and hide, did not fear, but stood up straight. And a “democracy platform” that the AKP leaders have not at all foreseen has now been formed.
In the meantime a change of roles took place before our very eyes.
The CHP, which used to be the political party of military tutelage and oppression, has become the representative of democracy under the leadership of Kılıçdaroğlu and claimed: “the crowning of the Republic with democracy” as its project. The AKP, on the other hand, has become the representative of oppression, despotism and tutelage.
As a consequence of this, the AKP lost the majority vote in the cities of Ankara, Izmir, Istanbul, Antalya, Adana and Mersin for the first time in one election.
It lost the youth vote.
It lost the female vote.
No political party can stay in power once it loses the major cities, the youth and women.
In a brave society where fifty per cent of the voters say “No” to oppression, tyranny will not last too long.
What we said then has become true even before a year has passed.
What does the prosecutor accuse us of?
Of grasping the facts and seeing what would happen?
Of stating the facts?
In fact, the elections on 7 June 2015 had signalled all these developments to us. The 1 November 2015 elections were artificial. Their outcome was artificial.
It was an outcome that reflected society’s horror at the death of over 600 people from 7 June to 1 November.
But beyond a certain point, death and violence stop helping the politicians to gain the power they seek.
People get tired of death, they get fed up with dying, and they begin distancing themselves from the political party that they identify with death and dying.
This is exactly how the system of military tutelage collapsed.
People identified it with death instead of life. It praised dying, it sanctified death.
It exhausted and cloyed society and it collapsed.
Now the AKP is doing the same thing.
It sanctifies death, glorifies it by waging a continuous propaganda campaign for martyrdom and promises the youth more death rather than more life.
It pushes the whole country into the frightening darkness of death.
It exhausts and cloys society.
That is why it will have to leave power.
That is what I thought that day and that is what I think today.
Is it a crime to think so?
Is it putschism?
Of course not!
Only those holding political power in their hands and their prosecutors don’t want the truth to be told. That is why they throw people like us in jail.
Let them throw us in jail.
They cannot alter the truth or change the future.
Here is another sentence of mine quoted in the indictment in capital letters:
“The so called MIT trucks… They had Can Dündar convicted in their courts. But there is still something quite weird there… Something that can be considered to be an international crime. There is collaboration with all the putschists, the Ergenekon people. There are corruption cases.”
Can Dündar was convicted.
Then what happened?
Were we able to learn what the MIT trucks were about? Has the matter been clarified? Did we understand what was in those trucks?
Do we know who sent those trucks and to whom?
Are these the sort of things a transparent government would do?
These are exactly the type of things the “deep State” that we call the “Ergenekon” would do.
They have refreshed our memories of the “deep State”.
If there is anyone out there who says that was not the case, they should tell this nation the truth of the matter, they should tell us what was in those trucks.
In that sentence, I say there are corruption cases.
Those cases are closed here but they continue in the United States. American officials have disclosed that they had negotiated with the Erdoğan government over those cases.
What are they negotiating about?
What are they giving and what are they asking for in return?
Do we know this?
Do we have the right to know?
Why don’t we know this? Why do we have to learn the truth from the Americans?
How is it that saying these things is considered to constitute the crime of putschism?
Is it putschism to demand that the State be transparent?
Here is another sentence from my speech as it was quoted in the indictment – again in capital letters:
“Whatever it was that paved the way for the past military coups in Turkey, Erdoğan is making the same decisions today, paving the way once again. For example, he passed a law that gives priority to military generals over civilians in the administration of the cities. A general will be able to govern a city if he wishes so. Erdoğan gave new life to the so-called EMASYA plan. What is worse, if you require prior authorisation for the military officers to be put on trial, those men will prepare for a coup much more easily.”
Now, stupidity won’t be enough to extract a dose of putschism from these sentences, one also has to hold a mortal grudge.
There are the opinions I have been defending for 30 years. These are sentences that emphasize the importance of the rule of law and the danger of giving special privileges to the military.
In the past, AKP annulled the so-called EMASYA practice that used to give priority to the military over civilians in the administration of the cities and they were very proud of that annulment.
If this was a good practice why did they annul it? If it was bad, why did they bring it back?
This is what we mean when we say this period reminds us of the days of the military tutelage.
And we see the consequences of this.
Turkey is rapidly going towards total collapse.
Are we considered to be putschists because we say: “don’t do this”?
In order to label those statements as putschism one has to say “we have disconnected ourselves from all sorts of logic, reason and law,” and indeed, this is what the prosecutor is implying.
Nazlı Ilıcak says to me: “I see that today’s circumstances will change and you described that quite eloquently.”
In the indictment, the prosecutor capitalised this sentence by Ilıcak.
He must think the words “circumstances will change” are dangerous and criminal.
I guess if he comes across Heraclitus who once said “One cannot bathe in the same river twice,” he would hang him.
Mehmet Altan says: “it is impossible for it to go on like this.” The prosecutor capitalised those words as well.
It is possible for it to go on like this?
Is it going on smoothly?
Look at the economic data, look at the referendum results, you will see if it is possible for it “to go on like this” or not.
I say another sentence in that conversation, one the prosecutor did not quote in capital letters:
“You can act in a despotic way, but if what you are doing is against the law, you will eventually lose.”
I think exactly the same way today.
Despotism is weakness that happens to have acquired some weapons. As despotism increases so does its weakness.
At the end, despotism loses, the rule of law wins.
In almost every line of that speech that the prosecutor used as the pretext to have us arrested, we defend the rule of law. Almost the whole conversation is an outright defence of the rule of law, but in the prosecutor’s view defending the rule of law is putschism.
And we languish in jail.
In this country, do you have to be an enemy of the law in order to avoid languishing in jail?
Perhaps the prosecutor is giving a not at all “subliminal” message to Turkey that whoever defends the rule of law will be thrown in jail.
Again, another sentence of mine that was capitalised in the indictment:
“Rightful men can win the fight even while in jail. Wrongful men will lose even in the palace.”
Since he capitalised it, the prosecutor must find this statement criminal as well.
What does the prosecutor object to in this statement?
Does he think those who are right cannot win and those who are wrongful cannot lose?
Is he trying to forbid people from saying that “the wrongful will lose”?
Will you look at this mess? We are on trial because of a conversation that defended human rights, rightfulness and the rule of law.
With no trace of shame they say it is putschism to defend the rule of law.
Indeed, that is what the prosecutor wishes to say:
“From now on, we will throw everyone who defends the rule of law in jail.”
Bravo! Throw them in!
These are your times.
But times change, times always change.
The problem of the powerful and the despotic is that they can never grasp this fact.
The generals of the 28 February also thought 28 February would last a thousand years.” The prosecutors serving those generals also threw people in jail.
Then, too, we used to say: “It cannot go on like this, don’t violate the law, return to the rule of law.”
I was put on trial many times for saying so.
Did it last?
It did not last. It could not last.
Today’s despotism, oppression, wrongdoings, unlawfulness cannot last either.
Oppressive regimes are like matchsticks. While burning everything down to ashes they also catch their own fire and get consumed in it.
Because there are important ties between the economy and the rule of law.
As you increase oppression and strangle the rule of law the country loses its credibility. In the countries where there is no rule of law and no credibility, domestic and foreign investments stop. The economy starts going down. Inflation and unemployment surge out of control.
People cannot give their kids a single meatball to eat, they cannot buy them bananas.
Their kids’ silent longing as they gaze at the restaurants, patisseries, fruit sellers make them suffer and feel ashamed.
At the end, they cannot bear their kids’ hungry gaze anymore and vote out those politicians who caused all this.
This is exactly what this country is going through today.
As they keep throwing people like us in jail they are destroying the rule of law and making the economy collapse.
The Council of Europe put Turkey back on “monitoring” for the first time since 2004. They treat today’s Turkey as they treated the Turkey of the military coup era, because the current political rulers have assumed the despotism of the putschist officers.
For this country, the cost of distancing itself from European values will be turning into an economic hell.
Unemployment, prices, helplessness, starvation will surge.
Do you think the government can last under such circumstances?
You will see that it won’t last, it cannot last.
Throwing us in jail and writing indictments filled with lies won’t be enough to save this government.
While lighting Turkey on fire, this government has also caught its own flame.
Day by day it is being consumed in its own fire.
We warned them many times about lighting both themselves and the country on fire. We are still warning them.
Their response has been to send their prosecutors and policemen over to throw us in jail.
Does telling them to return to the rule of law and stop the despotism constitute putschism?
This is merely the pitiful helplessness of a government that can no more stand any kind of criticism. As they burned the country they also burned themselves so badly that they are covered all over with oozing wounds.
As soon as the slightest bit of criticism touches their skin they hurt madly, cannot respond, and send their policemen and prosecutors over.
Our adventure today boils down to this helplessness.
Not the helplessness of those in jail, but the helplessness of those who threw them there.
Let’s keep reading the indictment, which happens to be a solid manifestation of that helplessness.
Here is a sentence from my speech that the prosecutor quoted in capital letters:
“This thieving government cannot stay there very long, this thieving government violates the law, violates rights, violates ethics. They even violate politics, they are doing things that are outside politics…”
And the rest of this statement quoted in lower case letters reads like this:
“This can’t go on; the magic is in those who have been wronged coming together, acting in solidarity, taking care of each other, providing a shoulder and demanding the rule of law.”
As far as I understand, the prosecutor puts forward the words “thieving government” as the proof of putschism. My suggestion that people should come together against this and demand that the rule of law should be applied must be also viewed as putschism by the prosecutors of this government.
I think the government committed theft and I say this. Under our laws, it is not a crime to say this. And it is not putschism at all.
Even though the latter-day shayks-al Islam might be issuing fatwas to state that “corruption is not theft,” such fatwas do not indicate that corruption is not theft, but that the author of that fatwa has nothing to do with religion or ethics anymore.
Corruption is theft.
This government is corrupt. The millions of extra dollars they took out of the State’s purse and paid to the contractors during the building of those major bridges should suffice to take them to court for corruption.
The prosecutor does not want me to say these things.
Am I supposed to ask the prosecutor what I should say?
Let them steal the money and throw those who tell them not to steal in jail.
And let us call this the rule of law.
The prosecutor also capitalised one of Nazlı Ilıcak’s sentences in the indictment, thus indicating it was a criminal sentence.
Ilıcak says: “This de facto situation will most certainly be accounted for, also these constitutional violations – because there is not only corruption but also the violations of the Constitution. One day, these will be most certainly accounted for.”
The prosecutor was angry with that.
The statement that seems to be the most unbearable for our prosecutor might be this: “Unlawfulness will be accounted for.”
He is some kind of lawyer all right, the kind that longs for an order in which the law will not be able to call to account perpetrators of any corruption, any lawlessness, any crime.
In the order this prosecutor longs for, those who say “Criminals will be taken to account for their crimes” are punished, not the criminals themselves.
The AKP has found the prosecutor it has been seeking.
I wonder how many of these exist? How many more people within the justice system are working to bring down both the rule of law and the country’s economy?
Then we run into my capitalised sentences again.
I give the example of Menderes and his chief of general staff Rüştü Erdelhun and say this:
“In these countries, once civilian politicians start playing games with the military they pave the way for a coup.”
Mehmet Altan gives the example of the Egyptian President Morsi who appointed General Sisi to secure his own position only to be ousted by him. “Morsi played games with Sisi,” he says.
And I continue:
“He played with the military. Playing with the military is clearing the road for a coup. A person who is not in the military cannot use the military to stay in power.”
The prosecutor quoted these lines in capital letters in his indictment, indicating criminal content.
Since our prosecutor doesn’t have any curiosity about what the man he accuses of putschism has written before, he doesn’t know that I have been writing on this subject for 30 years and I warned the governments before the AKP about not attempting to gain the support of the military in order to stay in power.
He assumes that TV programme was the first time we conversed on these issues.
A political government derives its legitimacy from the people and the law of the land.
But when they start messing up and turn on the oppression in order to hide the mess they are making, and attempt to use the military to keep the oppressive practices in place, a coup takes place.
This is how it has always been.
This is what happened in 1960, 1970, and 1980…
When you exceed the limits of the law and attempt to increase your power with the help of the weapons of the military, the generals say: “if the power rests on our weapons then we who are holding the weapons deserve that power”, and stage a coup.
Demirel appointed Kenan Evren as the chief of general staff in order to secure his own position and Morsi appointed Sisi for the same reason.
Both were ousted by the generals they appointed.
How is it a crime to warn a civilian government against this clear danger?
How is this putschism?
Is there anyone who can explain this within the limits of intellect, reason and the law?
Those are the sentences that the prosecutor thinks to be criminal in that TV conversation.
All of them are sentences that defend rightfulness, the law, justice, honesty, and transparency.
These are the most dangerous values to defend in Turkey today. These are the values the political power is fighting to do away with.
Now let’s turn to the conclusion the prosecutor wrote in order to accuse this conversation.
I absolutely love his first sentence.
This helplessly confused prosecutor does awaken feelings of pity and sympathy in me.
The prosecutor accuses us with “threatening and using insultlike rhetoric against President Erdoğan and members of the government” on the show.
Excuse the composition of that sentence. The prosecutor cannot use his mother tongue very well.
Is it not really very cute for him to think that we have the power to threaten Erdoğan and the government?
Those men have chucked us out of our homes and thrown us in jail and the prosecutor says: “they are threatening Erdoğan.”
How am I threatening Erdoğan?
By saying, “there is the law”?
By saying, “you will lose the elections if you keep going on like this”?
How am I threatening?
If they really think I have the kind of power to be able to threaten them, if they are so afraid of me, I must say I would find that quite entertaining.
And I don’t think there would be anyone out there who wouldn’t find that entertaining.
I also loved that phrase “insultlike rhetoric”.
What does “insultlike” mean, Your Honour?
Where in the law do we find this concept?
If I insulted anyone, he should have used the word “insult” and there is a certain article in the criminal law that regulates that. It doesn’t have anything to do with putschism.
He doesn’t use the word “insult”. Clearly, he too sees that I am not insulting anyone.
But, does “insultlike” mean harshly critical?
Criticism is not a crime.
So what does this word mean, “insultlike”?
The prosecutor’s mind seems to have become terribly confused as he was trying hard to make up a crime.
Then he says: “they say the acts and affairs of this government are against the law.”
We are reported to be saying that this government is doing things against the law.
Yes, that is exactly what I am saying.
Is it a crime to criticise a government because it is doing things that are against the law? Is it a crime to warn them by saying: “don’t do this”?
Is this putschism?
Shouldn’t we warn the government?
The prosecutor says: “don’t warn, don’t criticise, don’t talk.”
The prosecutor has no right to say this.
My criticism of the government’s unlawful affairs is none of the prosecutor’s business.
His job is to watch out for the unlawful affairs of the government, to investigate them and to open a case when he has evidence. You wish he would have that kind of courage…
He does not go after the unlawful acts, but he goes after the ones who criticise those acts. A typical AKP-era prosecutor!
He says: “they say this government will soon lose its hold on power.”
Yes, that is exactly what I am saying.
I also think they will lose the first presidential elections.
It is not a crime that political power will change hands. It would be problematic however to say that no matter what happens a government will always stay in place.
Governments come and go.
This is politics. This is democracy.
The moment a prosecutor says: “it is putschism to say that a government will lose its hold on power” he violates the laws, he rejects the basic rule that political power changes hands as a result of elections, and commits a serious offence. This prosecutor is committing this serious offence.
You will see that this indictment will be used in the future as criminal evidence against the prosecutor who authored it.
He says, “they say they [politicians] will be taken to court.”
I am supposed to have said that this government would be taken to court.
Yes, I am saying that.
Why wouldn’t be they taken to court if they committed a crime?
Is the AKP government above the law?
Does the prosecutor consider them to be above the law and justice?
Does he believe that they will never be tried in court?
What is the legal basis to that conviction?
Neither this conviction nor the allegations of the prosecutor have any legal basis. The prosecutor clearly violates the law by saying “you cannot criticise the government and if you do I’ll throw you in jail.”
We have now come to the best part.
We are supposed to have said that the AKP government would lose its hold on power in Turkey and “thereby as part of that rhetoric, to have declared that there was going to be a coup.”
It is supposed to have been impossible for us to know about the coup attempt without being in mental and operational unity with the terror organisation. Our objective is supposed to have been the legitimisation of the coup attempt.
And with that, the prosecutor removes his mask and spills the beans.
After pages and pages of empty words and gibberish this prosecutor finally says what he wants to say in the paragraph I just read to you.
But which of my sentences does he show as the proof of our alleged foreknowledge that there was going to be a coup on 15 July and that “we were in a unity of ideas and action” with the putschists?
That I am supposed to have said, “The AKP government will lose its hold on power in Turkey.”
That is exactly what I think.
How is it a proof of that we are in “unity of action” with the putschists to say that a political party will be removed from power?
I asked before, I am asking again:
What does this prosecutor think? That the AKP will be never removed from power?
What does he base his thinking on?
The economy has turned into hell, tourism collapsed, lack of trust in the rule of law is at record levels. What is the basis to his thinking that this political government will be never removed from power in this country?
According to this prosecutor, can the AKP not be voted out of power? Why wouldn’t it be voted out?
Before he accuses us of putschism, the prosecutor should first explain this.
On what information does he base his claim that the AKP will be never removed from power?
On what information does he base his allegation that everyone who says the AKP will be removed from power is a putschist?
Have the AKP leaders said, “they would never be voted out” and made the prosecutor believe that?
What is it?
Someone should explain to me the reasons behind this prosecutor’s meaningless and baseless allegations?
Look, I will repeat once more, it is not a crime to say that a political government will be removed from power. It is criminal to say it will not.
After quite a bit of juggling, what this prosecutor puts forward in the indictment against us as the proof of our “unity of action” with the putschists are two sentences of mine.
“The AKP will leave the position of power. And they will be tried in court.” These are the two sentences.
I am reported to have said: “The AKP will leave power and be tried.”
That is what I’m saying all right!
These are two legitimate possibilities that are also extraordinarily likely to become true in a State ruled by law.
Could you say that these two legitimate possibilities will never become true in a State that is ruled by law?
Could you say that the AKP will never leave the position of power and will never be taken to court?
How could expressing two possibilities that are extraordinarily likely and legitimate in a State ruled by law be shown as the proof of being in “unity of action” with the putschists?
What the prosecutor puts forward as his proof are these two sentences.
Because I said: “the AKP will leave the position of power and be tried in court,” we have been languishing in prison for months and are on trial here for life.
Will you look at the point to which the country, the law and justice have come to?
Now saying that a political party will lose its position of power is considered as the proof of one’s “unity of action” with the putschists.
The prosecutor accuses us of being in a “unity of action” with the putschists. “Action” means acts, movement.
How could merely two sentences provide a “unity of action”?
Is there any difference left between words and acts anymore?
Have the lawlessness and tyranny reached this point? Is saying that the AKP will lose its position of power now considered to be an “act of coup”?
If saying “The AKP will lose its position power” is akin to an “act of coup”, what is bombing the parliament?
Are we completely eliminating the differences between the phrase “The AKP will lose its position of power” and the act of bombing the parliament?
Is saying: “The AKP will go,” as heavy a crime as bombing the parliament now?
It is according to the prosecutor.
Look at the situation this government has put the country in. For them words are equal to bombs.
In order to emphasise the horror of the situation, the dimensions of this mess, the disaster the judiciary has been subjected to I am repeating once more:
My sentences that “the AKP will lose its position of power and stand trial” are put forward at the end of the indictment as the proof that we have participated in the 15 July coup, that we had “unity of action” with the putschists, that we acted together with the putschists on 15 July.
The proof is my four words in Turkish.
Because I said the AKP will lose its position of power the prosecutor demands that we will be given three aggravated life sentences.
Three life terms are not enough for me. Let me say that once again and increase that sentence to six life terms:
The AKP will lose its position of power. And they’ll stand trial.
To boot, this is very likely to happen in the next elections. The results of the referendum have already pointed in that direction.
In this trial, which has now become quite ridiculous, lost its importance and credibility and is indeed a clear example of a justice system that has forfeited its weight, I’d like to point out yet another absurdity.
The TV programme I appeared on was hosted by Nazlı Ilıcak and Mehmet Altan.
Because Ilıcak and Altan were the hosts, they acted with extreme civility and gave me the floor to speak. As a result, I was the one talking during most of the programme.
In fact, almost ninety per cent of the recorded minutes of the programme that the prosecutor quotes in the indictment consist of the things I said.
Over ninety per cent of the phrases he quoted in capital letters to imply criminal content are my phrases.
That short phrase which the prosecutor put forward as “proof” – that is also mine.
Well then, while it is clear that I made this speech and I said those sentences that are the alleged proofs of a crime, why in the world was Mehmet Altan arrested alongside me and thrown in jail?
Mehmet Altan’s arrest does not only concern himself. His arrest shows us the underlying truth of this trial.
Now, in this trial there is not a single piece of evidence against us. There can’t be.
There is an “excuse” for my arrest. A short phrase that is merely four words in Turkish.
There is no proof against me, but there is an excuse.
As for Mehmet Altan, there is not even an excuse.
I also carefully read the 2.5 pages this indictment dedicates to him. One of those 2.5 pages covers a column by him that ends by saying: “there is no way without the rule of law and democracy.”
There is not even an “excuse” on those 2.5 pages.
We have already given up on evidence being presented by this collapsed justice system, we are ready to acquiesce to even a single excuse, but for Mehmet Altan they cannot even come up with that.
Then why was Mehmet Altan arrested?
And what does it show to us that he was arrested without even an excuse and is on trial for life?
This shows us that our arrest has nothing to do with evidence and excuses. It has nothing to do with the coup.
We were arrested because we criticised the AKP and its policies. This is why we are on trial for life.
The AKP and its prosecutors are using the 15 July coup attempt, which Erdoğan has called a blessing of God, as an opportunity.
Not only ourselves, but also everyone who has opposed the government are being thrown in jail for reasons that are nonsensical.
The objective is not to silence us only. There is not an outlet through which we can have our voices heard and express our political opinions anyway.
The objective is to frighten and overawe the whole of society by means of this unlawful and unreasonable violence exerted on us and people like us.
But they have failed to achieve that objective.
The referendum results have shown everyone that they have not achieved their objective of intimidating society.
They have disgraced Turkey before the whole world with these shameful trials. They have turned this huge country into a whipping boy.
This has been the only outcome.
The prosecutor has two more meaningless allegations, which I will also touch upon with your indulgence.
Making the allegation that I was a “putschist” does not satisfy the prosecutor. He also alleges that I “was involved in disinformation in line with the activities that aimed to create chaos that favoured the PKK terror organisation” by saying that “people were killed in Cizre.”
That sentence is too confusing, but never mind. The man cannot write Turkish.
I will simplify it and tell you what he is trying to say.
I am said to have worked in favour of the PKK because I said: “people were killed in Cizre.” I am said to have tried to create chaos. I am said to be involved in disinformation activities.
When you hear this you would think nobody was killed in Cizre.
Were people not killed in Cizre? Were elderly women and babies not shot?
Isn’t this the truth?
Why would telling the truth be creating chaos?
Why would telling the truth be disinformation?
The prosecutor’s demand from us never changes:
“Do not tell the truth.”
His threat never changes:
“If you tell the truth, I will throw you in jail.”
And this is my response to the prosecutor:
Your prison matters not a whit to me. I will keep telling the truth. You should refrain from doing the sort of things that you are afraid that people will tell others about. Don’t kill innocent people, don’t be corrupt, don’t steal, and stop your injustice.
I have told the truth all my life. I am not going to give up on it now.
If there is anyone out there who expects me to be afraid of imprisonment or that the idea of spending the few remaining years of my life in jail would terrify me, here is my answer to them:
Not in a million years. I am not the kind of man you can frighten.
I am not the kind of man who will act in cowardice and squander the many decades behind me for the sake of the few years ahead.
Let me repeat that Hüseyin Cahit line, changing it slightly to adapt it to the situation at hand:
For me being the defendant in a trial like this and spending the rest of my life in jail is more honourable than being the prosecutor who authored the indictment for this trial.
The prosecutor says that the Can-Erzincan TV where I participated in a show on the night of 14 July was shut down by an emergency decree and that that channel operated “in conjunction with the terror organisation”.
What are these allegations doing in an indictment against me?
Wasn’t that channel legal and legitimate at the time we appeared on it?
What kind of logic is this?
How can the eventual shuttering of a TV channel be put forward as an indicator of our guilt?
Even this example alone is enough to show how the law has been molested.
The prosecutor has yet another allegation that I like quite a bit and I will answer that also as I am getting close to the end of my testimony.
The prosecutor says that I defended Mehmet Baransu in my speech on TV and that “in line with the objectives of the organisation, I tried to discredit the investigations by making comments that there was no freedom of expression in our country.”
When we translate the prosecutor’s writing into proper Turkish this is what he says:
In line with “an organisational objective,” I am said to have tried to discredit the investigations by saying there is no freedom of expression.
As you can see the impudence knows no limits…
In the prosecutor’s mind a person without an “an organisational objective” would not say “there is no freedom of expression.”
I really wonder if he believes what he says. If he actually does believe all of this, then we might have a medical case before us rather than a legal one.
I am said to have been discrediting the investigation by saying there is “no freedom of thought”.
First, let me give the bad news to the prosecutor.
Your investigations do not have the slightest credit. Neither in Turkey nor in the world.
And you don’t need anyone else to discredit your investigations. By writing a bunch of lies in disguise of an indictment you are doing that job yourself.
You are disreputable.
Saying “there is no freedom of thought” is said to be a crime.
You will throw over 160 journalists in jail, you will sack thousands of academicians with a single decree and you will turn around to tell us that “there is freedom of thought”. Is that so?
There isn’t even the speck of freedom of thought in this country.
All we have is an order of oppression that is even worse, even more villainous than the days of the military tutelage.
If there were the freedom of thought, would I have been on trial for life because of the speeches I made and columns I wrote?
Would Mehmet Altan be arrested at dawn without even an “excuse” against him?
What freedom of thought?
Which freedom of thought?
There is no freedom left in this country except for the prosecutor’s freedom to tell lies.
I am not supposed to say “there is no freedom of thought.”
While he is at it, our Mr Prosecutor should also ban mentioning that the Earth rotates.
This prosecutor has surpassed the prosecutors of The Inquisition. He is hostile to all kinds of truth.
Your Honour, there is no freedom of thought in this country.
Even my being on trial here in this court is sufficient proof that there is no freedom of thought.
Over 160 journalists of all stripes – leftists, Kurds, liberals, Kemalists, nationalists, conservatives – are in prison today.
What is the common feature of all these people with such different viewpoints?
That they all oppose the AKP.
This simple fact by itself demonstrates what kind of state freedom of expression and the rule of law are in this country today.
The whole world sees this fact.
The prosecutor who claims that there is freedom of thought in Turkey has also included three of my columns in the indictment in order to accuse me with putschism.
There is freedom of thought, but newspaper columns are deemed tantamount to putschism.
Don’t you love this version of freedom of thought!
In a column with the title “Absolute Fear,” I said that Erdoğan disobeyed the Constitution and violated all kinds of laws. That he was a dictator who took under his control the legislative, the executive and the judiciary, and that he was nearing the end of his political life.
This is what I wrote: “I think we are watching the final act of a lousy play. We have paid a heavy price but it is still good to know that it will be over soon.”
I completely agree with myself.
Erdoğan has violated the Constitution by declaring himself the de facto president [with the powers of a presidential system] and saying that he did not recognize the rulings of the Constitutional Court.
He is also the one who has talked about gathering all the powers in a single hand. A politician who gathers all the powers in a single hand is called a dictator.
Yes, we are nearing the end of a lousy play. Yes, we have paid a heavy price. Yes, it will be over soon.
In the first elections, Erdoğan is very likely to lose his position of power.
The referendum hinted at this.
Why would it be “putschism” to say these things?
Why would a prosecutor want to equate criticism of Erdoğan – the assertion that he will lose his position of power – with putschism?
With what authority does he try to stop us from criticising a politician?
What is the legal explanation behind equating the criticism of a politician with putschism?
There isn’t any such legal explanation.
In my column entitled “Beating all hollow”, I said that Erdoğan wanted civil war and continued: “When the walls of his palace come down with artillery fire he would understand what civil war is about, but it would be too late.”
An op-ed writer reported that Erdoğan had said this to a former bureaucrat: “Let civil war break out if it will. We will beat them all hollow.” The bureaucrat himself had told the writer about the conversation. This report was not denied. Erdoğan said so evidently.
How could a president wish for a civil war in his country? How could he say: “let civil war break out if it will”?
Civil war is terrifying.
No one can say, “let the civil war break out if it will” in this country.
Criticising this is not a crime, but saying this should be.
Of course I criticised this.
I wrote about what a terrifying thing it is.
We had a glimpse of that on 15 July.
Erdoğan’s palace was not bombed, but the parliament was.
Haven’t you seen what a terrifying thing that was?
How could it be a crime to say: “Do not wish for civil war”?
Someone says: “let the civil war break out if it will.” And I say in response: “don’t say such things, civil war is terrifying.”
And according to the prosecutor, I am the one who commits a crime.
Should I also say, “Let the civil war break out if it will” in order to humour the prosecutor?
What sort of accusation is that?
Has this prosecutor gone mad?
My column is said to have coincided with a certain Osman Özsoy’s “threats” against Erdoğan. I couldn’t quite get what he is saying in his confused Turkish, but I assume that is what he is trying to say.
I don’t know who Osman Özsoy is.
I have no idea whether he threatened Erdoğan or not.
But how can I be accused for someone else’s words?
Our prosecutor flies away like a runaway kite. He alleges that someone said something and puts that in an indictment against me.
Using the words allegedly said by someone whom I have never heard of, he attempts to prove I am guilty.
I am not threatening Erdoğan, I am warning him. I tell him not to wish for civil war.
I am saying the same thing today.
Civil war is terrifying.
Is it a crime to say this?
My third column has the title, “Montezuma”.
I am reported to have said that Erdoğan was taken captive by the nationalists who want military tutelage to be back in place.
Yes, I said so.
I am saying this also today.
Nationalists have themselves said that they shaped Erdoğan’s Russia and Syria policies and acted as go-betweens.
What does pointing this out have to do with putschism?
The prosecutor always ends up arriving at the same conclusion.
He says that: “criticising Erdoğan is putschism.”
And to that I say: “No”.
Criticising a politician is not putschism. Erdoğan is a politician – a politician who has made far too many mistakes in the last five years.
Of course he will be criticised.
As a result of these wrong policies, the country is collapsing before our eyes.
What would we criticise if we don’t criticise this?
The prosecutor is not acting like a prosecutor.
He is acting as a spokesman for censorship. He is abusing his authority by assuming the role of a politician’s enforcer and threatening everyone.
This is the summary of this indictment and all the lies therein.
These are the answers I will give to the untruthful accusations in this indictment.
The sole objective of this untruthful indictment, which fails to present us with even a speck of evidence, is to frighten and silence the people.
In none of the mature democracies of the world can people be thrown in jail and put on trial with such accusations.
It is the shame of this country and its judiciary that we have been thrown in jail and put on trial merely for our thoughts and criticism.
I don’t trust the present day justice system – a system that arrests people without reason and tries them with untruthful indictments.
Therefore I don’t have any requests either.
Your ruling will not have anything to do with me.
In one of his novels, John Fowles says that all the judges in the world are judged by their own decisions.
It is true.
All judges are judged by their own decisions.
You, too, will be judged by your own decisions.
However you want to be judged, whatever kind of verdict you would like for yourself, however you would like to be remembered, judge accordingly.
Because you are the one who will be judged.
Thank you for your time and patience.