Journalists and academics bear the brunt of the massive crackdown on freedom of expression in Turkey. Scores of them are currently subject to criminal investigations or behind bars. This website is dedicated to tracking the legal process against them.
Journalist Alptekin Dursunoğlu, the chief editor of the news portal Yakın Doğu Haber, was arrested on 29 February 2020 as part of an investigation launched by the Ankara Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office concerning social media posts on an attack on Turkish Armed Forces (TSK) in Syria’s Idlib, which killed 33 Turkish soldiers.
Dursunoğlu was brought to the Istanbul Courthouse on 1 March. There, he was referred by the prosecutor to a criminal judgeship of peace on allegations of “incitement to hatred and animosity” and “publicly degrading the State of the Turkish Republic and its institutions” under Article 301 of the Turkish Penal Code. Istanbul’s 8th Criminal Judgeship of Peace jailed Dursunoğlu pending trial. Two Twitter posts by Dursunoğlu, dated 22 and 28 February, were held as evidence against him. One of the posts featured a video titled “Hunting down terrorist and Turkish tanks in IDLIB.” The judgeship cited "flight risk" among grounds for Dursunoğlu’s detention. The journalist was sent to the Silivri Prison in Istanbul.
An indictment was issued against Dursunoğlu several days after his detention. Accepting the indictment, Istanbul’s 49th Criminal Court of First Instance set 16 March 2020 as the date for the first hearing.
At his first hearing, Dursunoğlu addressed the court from the Silivri Prison via the judicial video-conferencing system SEGBİS. Dursunoğlu said his social media posts were aimed at informing the public and that he had no intention of crime, asking to be acquitted and released.
The judge gave Dursunoğlu an additional turn to address the court in response to the charge of “praising an offense or an offender” under TCK Article 215. Dursunoğlu told the court that he reiterated his previous defense statement and asked to be acquitted.
Issuing its verdict at the end of the hearing, the court sentenced Dursunoğlu to 50 days in prison on the charge of “praising an offense or an offender.” The court commuted Dursunoğlu’s sentence to a judicial fine of TL 1,000 and ordered his release. Accordingly, Dursunoğlu was released from Silivri Prison later that day.