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.

Faruk Eren

Faruk Eren

Faruk Eren, Disk Basın-İş labor union’s former president and managing editor of the Gerçek Gündem news portal, has worked for the Dünya, Milliyet, Akşam, Evrensel, Yeni Yüzyıl, Radikal, Vatan and Cumhuriyet newspapers and NTV and İMC television networks throughout his career.

Eren, who is also a member of the Human Rights Association (İHD), was among the journalists and rights defenders who stood trial for participating in the “Co-Editor-in-Chief on Duty” campaign held in solidarity with the Özgür Gündem newspaper in 2016, before it was shut down under a statutory decree (KHK).

“Özgür Gündem solidarity trial”

The Istanbul Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office launched investigations against journalists and activists who participated in the Editor-in-Chief on Duty campaign that began on 3 May 2016 for purposes of solidarity with the Özgür Gündem newspaper. The investigations were launched on the allegations of “terrorism propaganda,” “praising crime and a criminal offender,” “printing or publishing statements by terrorist organizations,” “marking public officials assigned with the fight against terrorism as targets” and “provoking the people to commit crime.”

Of the 49 investigations launched against 56 people who participated in the campaign between 3 May 2016 and 7 August 2016, 11 ended with a decision not to prosecute. Criminal cases were filed on various charges against 38 people over news stories and articles published in the newspaper on the days they acted as the co-editor-in-chief on duty.

A case was filed against Faruk Eren, who was the president of the DİSK Basın-İş labor union and İMC TV news editor at the time, and İnan Kızılkaya, who was the managing editor of Özgür Gündem, on the charges of “terrorism propaganda,” “praising crime and a criminal offender” and “provoking the people to commit crime.” Three news articles published in Özgür Gündem on 5 May 2016, the day on which Eren took part in the campaign, were held as evidence for the accusations. The articles were headlined “Şirnex'te PÖH’ler Enkaz Altında” (Police spec ops under the rubble in Şirnex), “Gerilla Eylemleri Sürüyor” (Guerilla actions continue) and “Cizir’de Yıkım Sürüyor” (Destruction in Cizir continues).

The indictment issued by the Istanbul Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office was accepted by the Istanbul 14th High Criminal Court. The first hearing of Eren and Kızılkaya’s trial was held on 22 September 2016.


Eren and Kızılkaya’s case file was later merged with the case file numbered 2016/195, under which Ertuğrul Mavioğlu, İhsan Çaralan, Veysel Kemer, Şirin Taşdemir, Dilşah Kocakaya, Yüksel Oğuz, Celalettin Can, Celal Başlangıç, Fehim Işık, Öncü Akgül, Hüseyin Aykol and Ömer Ağın were on trial before the same court, also for participating in the campaign.

The prosecutor presented their final opinion during the 7 May 2018 hearing, requesting that 12 defendants, including Eren, be sentenced for “terrorism propaganda.” The prosecutor requested that Aykol be sentenced for “repeated terrorism propaganda.”

Rendering its judgment at the 11th hearing of the trial on 3 April 2019, the court sentenced eight people, including Eren, to 15 months of imprisonment for “terrorism propaganda.” Aykol was sentenced to 3 years and 9 months of imprisonment for “repeated terrorism propaganda.” The court suspended Eren’s sentence and accordingly ordered that Eren be subject to judicial control for 15 months.

Trial over Mehmet Özhaseki’s complaint

A court case on the charge of “libel” under Article 267 of the Turkish Penal Code (TCK) was filed against Eren over a news story headlined “Ne istedilerse almışlar” (They got whatever they wanted), published on 16 May 2018 in Cumhuriyet newspaper, of which Eren was the responsible managing editor at the time. The case, in which Eren was a defendant along with the newspaper’s managing editor Bülent Özdoğan, was filed upon a complaint by Mehmet Özhaseki, who was Minister of Environment and Urbanization at the time of the report.

Penned by Aykut Küçükkaya, the news report claimed that many power plants had been constructed after procedures at the Ministry and the Kayseri Metropolitan Municipality were completed rapidly. The case went ahead although the newspaper ran a correction, ordered by a court upon Özhaseki’s request. Concluding the case on 21 March 2019, the Istanbul 2nd Criminal Court of First Instance sentenced Eren and Özdoğan to a judicial fine of TL 84,000 each and deferred the announcement of their sentences.

“Insulting a public official” trial

On 24 June 2022, the Istanbul Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office launched a criminal investigation against Gerçek Gündem news portal’s Responsible Managing Editor Faruk Eren and editor Furkan Karabay on the allegation of “insulting a public official” on account of a news report headlined “Yargıda ‘Antalya’ operasyonunda ‘İstanbul’ ayrıntısı: Atanan savcılar neyin göstergesi?” (The Istanbul detail in the Antalya operation within the judiciary: What do new prosecutors’ appointments indicate?), published on Gerçek Gündem on 22 June.

In August 2022, the investigation resulted in an indictment against the journalists. The indictment was accepted by the Istanbul 30th Criminal Court of First Instance.

The trial began on 4 October 2022. The prosecutor for the hearing presented their final opinion at the first hearing and requested that the court sentence Eren and Karabay as charged for having “committed the imputed offense through their coverage of Council of Judges and Prosecutors [HSK] decisions.”

The court concluded the trial at the second hearing, held on 13 October 2022, and sentenced Eren and Karabay to 2 years and 3 months in prison each for “insulting a public official.”

Investigation on “libel” and “insult” allegations

President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s lawyers Mustafa Doğan İnal and Ahmet Özel also filed a criminal complaint against Eren and Karabay over the same news article. In their petition filed on 22 June 2022, İnal and Özel claimed that they had been “presented as targets” and their “reputation had been targeted.”

Upon İnal and Özel’s complaint, the Istanbul Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office launched an investigation against Eren and Karabay on allegations of “insult” and “libel.”

Concluding the investigation on 14 November 2022, the prosecutor’s office decided not to prosecute Eren on grounds that the article was authored by Karabay.

“Marking a person assigned with the fight against terrorism as a target” trial

Constitutional Court Judge İrfan Fidan filed a criminal complaint against Gerçek Gündem Responsible Managing Editor Faruk Eren and editor Furkan Karabay on allegations of “libel,” “insulting a public official” and “marking a person assigned with the fight against terrorism as a target” on account of a news report headlined “AYM’ye günler önce şikayet edildi: Başkan adayı İrfan Fidan’ın ‘adalet’ sicili” (Complaint filed with Constitutional Court just days ago: Court President candidate İrfan Fidan’s ‘justice’ record), published on Gerçek Gündem on 31 January 2023.

Fidan claimed that the report, which claimed that during his time as the Istanbul Deputy Chief Public Prosecutor, Fidan had meetings with Nuri Gökhan Bozkır, a suspect in the murder of Necip Hablemitoğlu, had presented him as a target to terrorist organizations he had investigated as deputy chief public prosecutor.

Upon Fidan’s complaint, the Ankara Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office issued an indictment against Eren and Karabay on the charge of “marking a person assigned with the fight against terrorism as a target” under Article 6/1 of the Anti-Terror Law (TMK) on 8 August 2023. The indictment listed Karabay’s report dated 31 January 2023 and posts he shared on his social media account on that day as evidence for the crime.

The Ankara 22nd High Criminal Court accepted the indictment and decided to impose on Eren a ban on traveling abroad during preliminary proceedings.

The first hearing of the trial was held on 7 November 2023. While Eren was present in the courtroom, Karabay attended from Istanbul through the judicial video-conferencing network SEGBİS. After hearing Eren and Karabay’s defense statements, the court issued an interim ruling, upholding the travel ban imposed on Eren and deciding to assess in between courtroom hearings whether to merge the case with another ongoing case against Karabay over the same news article and social media posts, overseen by the Ankara 4th High Criminal Court. The court adjourned the case until 5 March 2024.

After consent was given for a joinder of cases, the case file was merged with the case against Karabay overseen by the Ankara 4th High Criminal Court and the first hearing following the joinder was held on 23 January 2024. After Eren and Karabay delivered their defense statements, the prosecutor for the hearing submitted their final opinion, requesting that the court sentence both journalists as charged. Granting Eren and Karabay and their lawyers time to prepare their statements in response to the prosecutor’s final opinion, the court adjourned the trial until 5 March 2024.

During the hearing held on 5 March 2024, the prosecutor reiterated their final opinion, asking the court to sentence both journalists as charged. P24 monitored the hearing, attended by Karabay. Eren was represented by his lawyer.

After hearing the final defense statements, the court ruled for Eren and Karabay’s acquittal.