Expression Interrupted

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.

Court rules for continuation of journalist Abdurrahman Gök's imprisonment

Court rules for continuation of journalist Abdurrahman Gök's imprisonment

Journalist Abdurrahman Gök, who has been in custody since April, was not released due to “suspicion of flight.” The trial was adjourned until 5 December



The first hearing in the trial of imprisoned Mezopotamya Agency (MA) editor Abdurrahman Gök on charges of “membership in a terrorist organization” and “terrorism propaganda” was held at the Diyarbakır 5th High Criminal Court on 14 September 2023.

Gök, who was brought to the courthouse guarded by the gendarmerie from Diyarbakır Prison, where he is being held in custody, and his lawyers attended the hearing.

The trial, which P24 monitored, was attended by many people including HDP and Green Left Party province office administrators and MPs Meral Danış Beştaş, Cengiz Çandar, Serhat Eren and Adalet Kaya; CHP MP Sezgin Tanrıkulu and representatives of civil society organizations. Armed riot police took seats next to other people in the courtroom.

“I am on trial for capturing the moment Kemal Kurkut was shot”

Delivering his defense statement following identification, Gök said like other investigations launched against him, this trial also had to do with the fact that he took the photographs documenting the moment of Kemal Kurkut being shot dead by police during Newroz Celebrations held in Diyarbakır on 21 March 2017.

Stating that the Governorate of Diyarbakır had issued a statement describing Kemal Kurkut as a “suicide bomber” due to being misinformed by the police, Gök said that following the publication of the photos showing Kurkut being shot while naked from the waist up and investigation had been launched against the relevant police officers.

Gök said that following the publication of the photographs the office of the chief prosecutor had called on him to provide information and afterwards he had experienced significant pressure and was the subject of a total of five investigations.  “I think that this trial is primarily motivated by those photographs,” Gök added.

Gök stated that the indictment had listed the HTS records of some phone conversations with fellow journalists and some books that are sold with the official seal of authenticity as evidence and added that one of these books was The History of a Mountain that was published in 1830 by a French author.

Saying that the only allegation against him was the statement provided by witness Ümit Akbıyık, Gök said that this was information the prosecutor had obtained by specifically asking the witness about him, despite the witness not naming Gök in in any of his previous statements. Gök finished by emphasizing that he was on trial for his journalistic activities and requesting his release.

The prosecutor demands Gök be kept in custody due to suspicion of flight

Gök’s lawyer Resul Temur said that viewing the case file as a whole, it was clear that his client is a journalist. Temur stated that the indictment followed an approach of imposing interpretations on the court rather than providing concrete evidence and said, “The fact that some allegations are not even dated may lead to [my client] being tried again on the same charges.”

Temur said that they had requested the panel of judges to hear witness Ümit Akbıyık twice previously, that this had not taken place and requested the release of his clients on the grounds that the witness not appearing did not constitute an obstacle to release.

The prosecutor demands Gök’s continued custody due to suspicion of flight.

Speaking again, Gök said, “My address, my job and my family are all known, I am not a person to give cause to suspicion of flight. In a previous trial in which I was a defendant, I attended all hearings despite being granted an exemption. I will continue to practice journalism, whether I am free or in prison.”

Lawyer Temur repeated his request for the release of his client, stating that the prosecution’s request for continued remand was based on animosity.

The court ruled to keep Gök behind bars on grounds of suspicion of flight, for witness Ümit Akbıyık and the secret witness to testify between hearings and to request a copy of another case file on Gök that is pending appeal with the Supreme Court of Appeals and adjourned the trial until 5 December 2023.

Background of the case

Abdurrahman Gök was detained on 25 April 2023 as part of an investigation being run by the Diyarbakır Chief Prosecutor’s Office, along with 128 others including journalists, politicians, jurors, trade unionists, artists and human rights advocates.

Gök appeared before the court on 27 April 2023 and was sent to prison along with four other journalists on charges of “membership in a terrorist organization.”

The 14-page long indictment prepared by the Diyarbakır Chief Prosecutor’s Office in June 2023 listed professional activities and the news items prepared by Gök as elements of crime.