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.
27-year-old Ayşenur Parıldak, a former court reporter for the shuttered Zaman and a student of law at the Ankara University, was arrested on the campus of her school on August 3, 2016 and imprisoned pending trial on August 11 on charges of “being a member of FETÖ terrorist organization.”
Parıldak faces a prison term of 7.5 to 15 years on the formal charges of terrorist group membership. She appeared before a court in February for first hearing six months after her imprisonment. On May 1, Ankara 14th High Criminal Court ordered her release pending trial on judicial control and subject to a travel ban but she was rearrested hours later upon objection to her release by the prosecutor who cited new evidence regarding her alleged use of ByLock, an encrypted messaging application which authorities say is used exclusively by members of the Gülenist network and proof of “FETÖ membership.”
Parıldak was convicted and sentenced to seven years and six months in jail for “membership in an armed terrorist organization” at the end of the hearing on November 21, 2017. In her final defense statement to the court, Parıldak rejected the accusation that she had used ByLock. She also denied that her social media posts cited by the prosecution constituted a crime and requested her acquittal.
Conviction and appeal process
The court originally sentenced Parıldak to nine years in jail but then reduced the sentence to seven years and six months, taking into consideration her “good conduct” during the trial. The court also ruled that Parıldak remain in prison while the verdict is appealed.
Parıldak's appeal against the decision at a regional court of appeals was rejected on 7 June 2018. The Supreme Court of Appeals also upheld her conviction on 27 December 2018, meaning it became final.
Parıldak also filed an individual application with the Constitutional Court on 24 March 2017, arguing that her right to liberty and security of person, right to respect for private and family life, right to be free from inhuman or degrading treatment, right to education and freedom of expression and the press were violated. The top court unanimously rejected Parıldak's application on all grounds.
Release under probation denied by prison administration
Parıldak became eligible for release under probation as of March 2021. But her lawyer's two separate applications to the prison administration were rejected on the ground of the "lack of definit and credible evidence that she did not have any ties or connections with the terrorist organization." After spending 5 years and 7 months behind bars, Parıldak was finally released from prison on 18 March 2022 upon serving her full sentence.