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.

Derya Okatan acquitted

Derya Okatan acquitted

Former ETHA responsible editor Derya Okatan was on trial over a news article published in 2016


The sixth hearing of a trial where journalist Derya Okatan was charged with "defamation" over a news article from 2016 was held on 31 May 2022 at the İstanbul 39th Criminal Court of First Instance. The article was published by the Etkin News Agency (ETHA) when Okatan was the responsible managing editor. 

The article, published on 1 May 2016, was titled “Mersin Kadın Platformu: Tacizci avukat Onur Kale’yi teşhir ediyoruz” (Mersin Women’s Platform: We are exposing molester lawyer Onur Kale).

The presiding judge did not allow journalists to enter the courtroom, citing pandemic measures. Okatan, who did not attend the hearing, was represented by her lawyer Mehmet Ali Koç at the courtroom. As the prosecutor of the case was replaced, the judge asked the new prosecutor whether she had any request. Stating that she had no demand with respect to extending the scope of the prosecution, the new prosecutor said that she agreed with the opinion as to the accusations presented on 6 July 2021 and demanded acquittal of Okatan.

Okatan’s lawyer Koç said that he agreed with the prosecutor's final opinion. Emphasizing that the news article in question should be evaluated within the scope of freedom of press, Koç also demanded acquittal of Okatan.

Announcing the verdict at the end of the hearing, the judge ruled for the acquittal of Okatan, concluding that she did not have wrongful intention, nor negligence in relation to the impugned offence.

The İstanbul Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office had launched an investigation against Okatan upon a complaint filed by the lawyer mentioned in the news article in question. After the investigation resulted in a decision of non-prosecution, the complainant lawyer filed an objection with the İstanbul 14th Criminal Judgeship of Peace but the judgeship also dismissed his appeal. The lawyer then took the case to the Supreme Court of Appeals, which overturned the judgeship's decision. An indictment was drafted against Okatan on 9 September 2019, following the Supreme Court's decision.