Nokta editor-in-chief faces 6 years

April 28, 2007, Saturday/ 21:03:00
An İstanbul prosecutor has pressed charges against Nokta newsweekly’s editor-in-chief Alper Görmüş  for running a story that featured excerpts from a diary that was allegedly authored by former Navy Force Commander retired Admiral Özden Örnek.
Görmüş is being indicted at the end of an investigation launched by the prosecutor’s office in İstanbul’s Bakırköy district on an appeal by Özden Örnek, after excerpts from the controversial diary were printed in Nokta suggesting that Örnek and a number of other former commanders had plotted to stage a coup to overthrow the ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Parti) government in 2004. Örnek has consistently denied that the said diary belonged to him.

The indictment said the diaries were penned by Görmüş, and not by Özden Örnek as Nokta had claimed. It recalled that Nokta’s 22nd issue that came out on March 29 had included a news story that Turkey had returned from the verge of a coup d’état in 2004.

The indictment said Nokta’s article claimed that “Özden Örnek, only three days after he was promoted to his new post, wrote the following sentences in the pages of his diary which he had been writing with diligence for years,” and included notes and plans about a coup to overthrow the civilian government devised by former force commanders.

Complainant Özden Örnek had “informed the prosecutor that the fictive diaries printed in the magazine constituted the crime of slander, they were expressions made up fictitiously in a style a force commander would never employ and had the intent of denigrating his honor and dignity, and that he was not the writer of this diary and held none of the opinions stated in the diary,” according to the indictment. Özden also claimed he was being insulted when the journal referred to him as the “Admiral who attempted a coup.”

The indictment said Nokta Editor-in-Chief Görmüş said he remained his right not to disclose his sources protected by Article 12 of the Press Law in his defense statement, and did not see further explanation necessary. Görmüş failed to present the prosecutor’s office any proof, information or evidence otherwise standing proof to his claim that the diary actually belonged to the plaintiff.

The prosecutor demanded from 1 to 4 years in prison for Görmüş on charges of “slander,” under article 267 of the Turkish penal code and called for applying a provision of the same article which stipulates the prison sentence be doubled in cases where “the deed is done by manufacturing material evidence.” The prosecutor also demanded a jail sentence from 3 months up to 2 years for “insulting a person by way of the press,” a crime defined under article 125 of the Turkish Penal Code.

Prosecutor says case allegations against Örnek outside its jurisdiction

The  prosecutor’s office also issued a statement saying allegations about Özden Örnek suggesting that he was part of a plot seeking to overthrow the government  was outside its jurisdiction. The statement this time referred to Özden Örnek as “the suspect.” The allegations against Örnek fell under the scope of the same investigation as the allegations against Alper Görmüş. The file against Örnek had been referred to the General Staff’s Military Prosecutor’s Office, it noted.

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