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.
Aslı Erdoğan, a renowned novelist and a columnist and an Editorial Advisory Board of the shuttered pro-Kurdish Özgür Gündem daily, was arrested in a police raid of her home as part of an investigation targeting the newspaper on August 16, 2016.
Erdoğan was one of more than 20 people, including executives and other members of Özgür Gündem’s Editorial Advisory Board, who were taken into police custody. Özgür Gündem itself was shut down with a court order earlier on the same day on the grounds of “terrorism propaganda” and acting as a “de facto news outlet” of the PKK, designated by Turkey as a terrorist group.
Erdoğan was ordered jailed pending trial on August 19, 2016 on charges of “propaganda for a terrorist organization”, “membership in a terrorist organization” and “disrupting the unity of the state and the country.” Four articles penned by Erdoğan, tackling mostly the situation in southeastern districts that became a scene of military operations and curfews, were presented as grounds for the decision.
An indictment subsequently prepared by Istanbul Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office formally charged Erdoğan and eight others, including three in pre-trial detention like Erdoğan, with “membership in an armed terrorist organization”, “disrupting the state’s unity” and “terrorism propaganda,” seeking an aggravated life sentence and an additional prison term of up to 17.5 years.
On November 23, 2016, Istanbul 23rd High Criminal Court ruled for release of Erdoğan and linguist Necmiye Alpay, another member of the Özgür Gündem Editorial Advisory Board and one of the four suspects held in pre-trial detention, in connection with the charge of “disrupting the state’s unity” on the grounds of lack of sufficient evidence indicating that the said crime was committed. But they remained imprisoned as the court ruled to keep them in pre-trial detention in connection with the charge of “membership in a terrorist organization.”
On December 29, 2016, Erdoğan, Alpay as well as Zana (Bilir) Kaya, the editor-in-chief of Özgür Gündem, were released following a court hearing.
On June 22, 2017, at the end of the fourth hearing of trial, Istanbul 23rd High Criminal Court ruled to lift a travel ban on Erdoğan and Alpay.
Erdoğan still faces charges as part of the Özgür Gündem trial. The next hearing in the case will be held on March 6, 2018.