Özlü, chief editor for the ultranationalist-leftist television station Ulusal Kanal (National Channel), was being held at Silivri L Type Closed Prison No. 1 in Istanbul on charges of participating in the Ergenekon conspiracy, a shadowy plot that prosecutors said was aimed at overthrowing the administration.
According to the government’s indictment, the channel aired an audio recording made by Ergenekon conspirators. The recording purported to include a 2004 phone conversation between Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and the Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat in which the two discussed the sensitive issue of Cyprus’ political status.
The indictment identified Ulusal Kanal as a media arm of Ergenekon. In August 2013, the 13th Court of Serious Crimes in Istanbul convicted Özlü of being a member of a terrorist organization, which is what Ergenekon is considered, and sentenced him to nine years in prison.
Özlü was appealing the verdict before Turkey’s Supreme Court of Appeals. The appeal was ongoing in late 2013.