Ankara Deputy Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office completed their investigation into the popular hacktivist group RedHack, and submitted the indictment to 13th High Criminal Court of Ankara. The 10 people being tried as allegedly members of “an armed terrorist organization” face prison sentences of 8.5 to 24 years if found guilty.
The controversial indictment goes to great lengths to support the allegations of terrorism. “As can be observed in news on print and broadcast media, the whole world now considers attacks on e-state applications as actions that debilitate the authority of the state, destroy basic rights and freedoms, and threaten national and foreign security, as well as public order,” the Prosecutor’s Office wrote. The indictment reminded the court that releasing the identities of criminal informants, which RedHack didTR in retaliation to “disproportionate act by the government and its lackeys,” is punishable under the Turkish anti-terrorism legislation.
Driving the point forward, the Prosecutor’s Office alleged that RedHack “has digitally published photographs of its protests, attacked the internet sites of institutions that intervened in its illegal protests or protests of similar organizations, digitally published the information and documents obtained through such attacks, promoted its organization through its website, digitally lent support to similar Marxist-Leninist-Maoist leftist and separatist terrorist organizations, including THKP/C, THKO, TKP /ML, DHPK/C MLKP and PKK, through online protests.” Predictably, the final maneuver to conflate hacking with armed terrorism was an easy one from this point. “Hence, even though they are not members of those terrorist organizations, RedHack Kızılyıldızlar members can be considered to have perpetrated crimes in the name of those organizations,” the indictment read, opening up the possibility of years of imprisonment for the suspects.
RedHack, on the other hand, denies all allegations. In response to our inquiry, RedHack tweeted that, “Even if we had broken in and destroyed their computers with an axe, they wouldn’t ask for such punishment,” and added, “They are trying to intimidate.” The group did not comment on the innocence of the defendants, but maintained the position that the 10 suspects have no relation whatsoever to the hactivist group. In a tweet to Hürriyet Daily News, RedHack said, “We just demand freedom and unlimited information. That’s why they call us terrorists. Those 10 people have no ties with us; they are only innocent people who shared the news [on online platforms] about us.”
Yusuf Güzel, one of the lawyers from the RedHack trial, spoke to YurtTR and said, “We do not understand how RedHack can be an armed organization. When none of the protests involve arms, the indictment’s plea for improsenment is nonsensical.” He was hopeful about the trial on November 26, and commented that his clients “have been held in jail for 7 months without evidence, and should walk in the trial.”
A deputy from Republican People’s Party (CHP), the main opposition party, Veli Ağbaba met with Duygu Kerimoğlu, one of the defendants currently arrested without bail. He accused the AKP government of building an empire of fear, and asserted that the entire operation was a sham set up to “recover, over a couple of youngsters, the damage done to the public opinion after the Police hacking.” Adnan Kerimoğlu, the defendant’s father, said they do not want Duygu “to lose another year in school. They are presenting as evidence her participation in May 1 celebrations. We celebrate May 1 as a family, and we will continue to do so.”
The current legal morass includes a hacker group-cum-armed terrorist organization, sans weapons, represented in court through 10 alleged members, whose relation to the group is denied by everyone but the prosecutor, in what will most likely result in a mistrial or the release of the defendants, as no tangible evidence is presented. While it is amusing to watch RedHack garner street cred as the prosecution spins unbelievable tales from another era, three people wasted 7 months in prison. Perhaps, that is the prosecution’s gambit, and it seems to be failing. With only 6 weeks until the trial, it seems like RedHack, and the 10 suspects, are walking away with both the law and the public opinion behind them.