Police in Istanbul detained Ercan Gün, a news editor for Turkish Fox TV, on July 29, 2016, as part of a sweeping crackdown on journalists and others suspected of being followers of exiled preacher Fethullah Gülen, according to his lawyer and court documents reviewed by the Committee to Protect Journalists. The government accuses Gülen of maintaining a terrorist organization and "parallel state structure" (or FETÖ/PDY, as the government calls it) within Turkey that it blames for orchestrating a failed military coup on July 15, 2016.
Istanbul's Third Court of Penal Peace on August 2, 2016, ordered the journalist released on probation, but police detained him before he left the courthouse, on suspicion that he had broadcast a news report to tarnish the image of the military on the order of FETÖ/PDY, his lawyer, Çağrı Çetin, told CPJ.
The new allegations stemmed from his having broadcast footage on February 1, 2007, showing Ogün Samast, whom a juvenile court in 2011 convicted of the January 19, 2007 murder of Armenian-Turkish journalist Hrant Dink, receiving a Turkish flag and congratulations on the murder from police officers less than a day after Dink's murder. The footage aired on TGRT-TV, which Fox bought and renamed in 2007. The police officers in the footage were terrorism police, but were incorrectly identified as military police in the broadcast.
Istanbul's Second Court of Penal Peace on August 25, 2016, ordered Gün jailed pending trial on the accusation that he was a member of a terrorist organization, and that he aired the story on Samast at FETÖ/PDY's behest "to create the perception that the military is related to the murder," according to court records of the hearing, which CPJ reviewed.
Çetin told CPJ that police repeatedly asked Gün who gave him the footage, and that he said an officer promised that Gün would be released if he implicated Ekrem Dumanlı, then the editor-in-chief of the daily newspaper Zaman, which the government ordered closed using emergency powers it assumed after the failed July 2016 coup attempt. Gün previously worked at Zaman. Police produced call logs showing that he had spoken with Dumanlı and other senior Zaman staff by telephone shortly before the video aired, Çetin told CPJ. Gün said the calls to Dumanlı and others at Zaman were in pursuit of his severance package, his lawyer told CPJ.
Çetin told CPJ in 2016 that his client has suffered from sleeping disorders and vision problems since being jailed in July.
An Istanbul court accepted a fourth indictment on May 29, 2017, which named Gün as one of several defendants, according to Bianet. The indictment centers on state officials who allegedly neglected to do their duty or conspired to allow Dink to be murdered. In the indictment, Gün is charged with “attempting through violence or force to disrupt the order as foreseen by the Constitution of the Republic” and “aiding and abetting a [terrorist] organization,” Bianet reported. If convicted of the first charge, he could face life in prison without parole. The indictment alleged that Gün tried to defame the military and “manipulate public perception” by publishing the photo of Dink’s murderer, according to Bianet. The court had rejected three earlier indictments from the prosecution for the retrial of the Dink murder case, according to press reports,
At a court hearing on October 3, 2017, Gün said that the photograph was a still from a video sent to the newsroom by mail, according to reports. Gün said that when the newspaper realized it had made a mistake in the photo’s caption, it corrected the caption and did not repeat the mistake.
Gün asked the court how he could have manipulated public perception with one editorial mistake.
On October 6, 2017, the court ordered some of the defendants released for the duration of the trial, but Gün was remanded in custody, according to reports citing the Doğan News Agency.
As of late 2018, Gün is still on trial, according to press reports. A hearing was held on September 28, 2018, and the next scheduled court hearing was December 18, 2018, reports said. The journalist’s lawyer did not respond to CPJ’s calls seeking more information in late 2018.
Gün was in Silivri Prison in Istanbul.