Barış Pehlivan

İstanbulOda TVnews websiteeditor-in-chiefultranationalist-leftistFebruary 14 2011Several members of the ultranationalist-leftist news website Odatv were arrested in February and March 2011 on charges of having ties to the alleged Ergenekon plot, a shadowy conspiracy that authorities claim was aimed at overthrowing the government through a military coup. Authorities charged all of the staffers with propagandizing on behalf of Ergenekon, lodging additional charges against some. Odatv features news and commentary that promotes an ultranationalist agenda from a Kemalist perspective and is harshly critical of its perceived opponents. The targets of its attacks include the ruling Justice and Development Party, the Fethullah Gülen religious community, the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), and liberals. Much of Odatv’s critical commentary involves highly personal attacks. Yalçın, owner of the site and an opinion writer for the daily Hürriyet (Freedom), and Pehlivan, the site’s chief editor, were also charged with attempting to influence court proceedings, inciting hatred, and violating privacy rights. Authorities charged Yalçın with disclosing classified military and intelligence documents as well. Held at Silivri F Type Prison in Istanbul pending trial, both Yalçın and Pehlivan denied the accusations and said the evidence against them amounted to the website’s published material and their professional phone conversations. Terkoğlu, the news editor, was also charged with inciting hatred and was being held at Silivri F Type Prison pending trial. Terkoğlu said he was behind all of the news stories published by Odatv, whether written by him or not, but that none had criminal content. He said Odatv’s reporting on the Ergenekon case, for example, was based on public indictments and court sessions. “There are press laws in the country. The prosecutors could have filed cases if what we write is wrong. But that did not happen; our news was considered a so-called terror crime,” Terkoğlu said in court. Küçük, an opinion writer for the site and for the daily Aydınlık, was also accused of being a leader of the Ergenekon organization, inciting hatred, violating privacy rights, and disclosing classified military and intelligence documents. In court, Küçük said the charges were without basis. As evidence, authorities have cited wiretapped phone conversations between staffers in which coverage was discussed. In one conversation, authorities allege, Yalçın directed a columnist to write a piece suggesting that the ruling Justice and Development Party, or AKP, was forcing the military’s hand to stage a coup. Authorities also cite as evidence a series of digital documents found on Odatv computers during a police raid on the news outlet. The authenticity of the documents has been challenged by the defense. A team from the Middle East Technical University in Ankara, which examined the evidence at the request of the defense, found that the computers contained Trojan files that left the machines vulnerable to outside manipulation. The team also found that the documents themselves were altered on the day of the police raid, further raising the possibility that the files could have been planted or manipulated. Authorities said the documents included an Ergenekon media strategy memo, an ultranationalist text describing the AKP as dangerous; and directions on covering the PKK, AKP, army generals, and the Ergenekon investigation. Authorities also cite two documents claiming that the well-known investigative reporter Nedim Şener had helped a former regional police chief, Hanefi Avci, write a 2010 book alleging that the Gülen movement had infiltrated the police force. Another document claimed Şener was also helping investigative reporter Ahmet Şık write a book about the Gülen movement. Authorities used those documents to link Şener and Şık to the Ergenekon plot. The two were jailed for more than 12 months before being freed pending trial; they continued to face anti-state charges related to the plot.attempting to influence court proceedings, inciting hatred, and violating privacy rightsattempting to influence court proceedings, inciting hatred, and violating privacy rights