Burhan Gardas

Beats Covered:
Local or Foreign:

Gardas, the Ankara bureau chief for the now banned weekly socialist magazine Mucadele, was prosecuted several times beginning in 1994. Court records state that Gardas was arrested on January 12, 1994, at his office and charged with violating Article 168/2 of the Penal Code. During a search of the premises, police reportedly found four copies of “news bulletins” of the outlawed organization Devrimci Sol (also known as Dev Sol).

During the trial, the prosecution claimed that police also found banners with left-wing slogans, along with photographs of Devrimci Sol militants who had been killed in clashes with government security forces. The prosecution also claimed that Gardas shouted antistate slogans during his arrest, and that he was using Mucadele’s office for Devrimci Sol activities.

Gardas denied all the charges. His attorney argued that the illegal publications were part of the magazine’s archive, and that Gardas had been tortured in prison, submitting a medical report to prove the allegation. On May 14, 1994, Gardas was released pending his trial’s outcome.

While awaiting the verdict in the 1994 prosecution, Gardas was arrested on March 23, 1995, when police raided the office of the successor to Mucadele, the weekly socialist magazine Kurtulus, for which he was also the Ankara bureau chief. Officials said he had violated Article 168/2 of the Penal Code because of his alleged membership in Dev Sol. During the raid, police seized three copies of Kurtulus “news bulletins” and six Kurtulus articles discussing illegal rallies.

Court documents from his second trial, which was held at the Number 2 State Security Court of Ankara, reveal that the prosecution’s evidence against Gardas consisted of his refusal to talk during a police interrogation–allegedly a Devrimci Sol policy–and his possession of publications that the prosecution contended were the mouthpieces of outlawed organizations. In addition, Ali Han, an employee at the Ankara bureau of Kurtulus, testified that Gardas was a Devrimci Sol member. Gardas denied the claim, and his lawyer argued that the journalist client had the constitutional right to remain silent during police interrogations.

On July 4, 1995, the Number 1 State Security Court of Ankara sentenced Gardas to 15 years in prison on the 1994 charge. In 1996, he was convicted and sentenced to an additional 15 years for the second set of charges.