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.

Freedom of Expression and the Press in Turkey - 160

Freedom of Expression and the Press in Turkey - 160

Journos detained in sweeping operation across 9 provinces, Kibriye Evren jailed; Seda Taşkın given 7,5 years in prison; Faruk Arhan given suspended sentence


Over 120 individuals, among them journalists, local politicians and activists, were detained across nine provinces on 9 October as part of a sweeping operation launched in Diyarbakır.

Among those who were detained, 23 were released the same day after an interrogation at the Diyarbakır Police Department, while 25 people were referred to the Diyarbakır Courthouse on 11 October. Among them, 13 people, including Jin News correspondent Kibriye Evren, were jailed pending trial on “membership in a terrorist group” charges while the remaining 12 were released under judicial control measures.

Journalists Abdurrahman Gök, Esra Solin Dal and Lezgin Akdeniz (Mezopotamya news agency), Semiha Alankuş (Yeni Yaşam newspaper), Cihan Ölmez and Mehmet Akdoğan, Yeni Yaşam distributor Savaş Aslan, and HDP press department employee Vedat Dağ were among 70 people that also included politicians and activists referred to the Diyarbakır Courthouse on Friday. Dal, Alankuş and Akdoğan, as well as 17 others were released under judicial control measures. Journalists Gök, Ölmez and Akdeniz were among those who were released following police interrogation without being referred to the courthouse. Twelve others were referred to a court for arrest on the charge of “terrorist group membership.”

Servet Öner, a former editor for the magazine Demokratik Modernite, was also detained on 11 October in Istanbul as part of the same investigation. Öner was taken to the Istanbul Police Department, from where she was expected to be sent to Diyarbakır on Friday. She was released on Friday evening without being sent to Diyarbakır.

Also as part of the same investigation, journalist Ömer Çelik’s house in Diyarbakır was searched by the police. Police also raided the Diyarbakır offices of Yeni Yaşam newspaper and confiscated their computers.

Cumhuriyet reporters to stand trial for Pastor Brunson coverage 

An indictment has been issued against Cumhuriyet reporters Alican Uludağ and Duygu Güvenç, accusing the journalists of “publicly degrading the judiciary” as per Article 301 of the Turkish Criminal Code, on account of their reporting about the US pastor Andrew Brunson, who was released from house arrest on Friday.

The journalists will appear before the 2nd Criminal Court of First Instance of Istanbul on 20 December 2018 for the first hearing of the trial.

Seda Taşkın sentenced to 7.5 years in prison 

Seda Taşkın, a reporter for the Mezopotamya news agency, was sentenced to a total of 7.5 years in prison on terrorism-related charges on 10 October.

The 2nd High Criminal Court of Muş which oversees the trial sentenced Taşkın to 4 years and 2 months in prison for “aiding a terrorist organization without being its member” and to 3 years and 4 months for “conducting propaganda for a terrorist organization.”

A report about the hearing, monitored by P24, can be accessed here.

Travel ban on Eren Keskin lifted in “Özgür Gündem trial”

An Istanbul court ruled on 10 October to lift an international travel ban on Eren Keskin, a lawyer and human rights defender who was a co-editor-in-chief and writer of the shuttered pro-Kurdish newspaper Özgür Gündem.

Announcing its interim ruling at the end of the 10th hearing in the long-running “Özgür Gündem main trial,” the 23rd High Criminal Court of Istanbul also ordered the continued pre-trial detention of the newspaper’s publisher, Kemal Sancılı, and adjourned the trial until 17 January 2019.

The nine defendants in the case -- the newspaper’s columnists, editors and its advisory board members -- are on trial on “disrupting the unity of the state” and “membership in a terrorist organization” charges.

A report about the latest hearing, monitored by P24, can be accessed here.

“Özgür Gündem solidarity” trials adjourned 

The latest hearing in another Özgür Gündem trial, where 13 defendants face “terrorism propaganda” charges for joining a solidarity campaign for the newspaper in the summer of 2016 by symbolically editing the newspaper for a day, was also held on 10 October.

The 14th High Criminal Court of Istanbul, which oversees the case, ruled to ask the press desk under the Istanbul Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office to state dates of publication for each copy of the newspaper that the prosecution deems to constitute an offense. The court then adjourned the trial until 28 March 2019.

A report about the hearing, also monitored by P24, can be found here.

Another “Özgür Gündem solidarity trial” was heard on 9 October by the 13th High Criminal Court of Istanbul. 

This was the seventh hearing in the case, where Reporters Without Borders (RSF) Turkey representative Erol Önderoğlu, human rights defender Şebnem Korur Fincancı and writer Ahmet Nesin are standing trial on the charge of “terrorism propaganda,” facing up to 7.5 years jail term.

The court adjourned the trial until 28 January 2019, awaiting an expert report on Nesin’s defense statement and the execution of a warrant for his arrest.

Also on October 9, the latest hearing in the trial into columnists and editors of Özgür Gündem was heard by the 14th High Criminal Court of Istanbul.

Eren Keskin, Reyhan Çapan, Reyhan Hacıoğlu, Hüseyin Aykol, Filiz Koçali, Ayşe Berktay, Nuray Özdoğan, Celalettin Can and Ayşe Batumlu face “terrorism propaganda” and “publicly praising crime” charges over some articles and reports published in the now-defunct daily in the trial.

It was revealed at the hearing that the file of another defendant who published articles in Özgür Gündem, Züleyha Yılmaz, had been merged with the case file.

Keskin’s lawyer requested that Keskin’s file be separated and merged with the “Özgür Gündem main trial,” overseen by the 23rd High Criminal Court, as she is also a defendant in that case on similar grounds.

The court ruled to request the indictment and court reports on previous sessions from the 23rd High Criminal Court and adjourned the trial until 28 March 2019.

A report about both hearings, monitored by P24, can be found here.

Court imposes travel ban on Berberoğlu in “MİT trucks case”

An Istanbul court on 10 October heard the latest hearing in the trial into Cumhuriyet daily’s former editor in chief Can Dündar, former Ankara representative Erdem Gül, and main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) MP Enis Berberoğlu on the charge of “aiding a terrorist organization” over the publication of a news report about the alleged transfer of weapons to Syria on trucks operated by Turkey’s National Intelligence Organization (MİT).

Gül and Berberoğlu, as well as defense lawyers were in attendance at the eighth hearing at the 14th High Criminal Court of Istanbul. The trial is closed to public.

During the hearing, it was revealed that the Istanbul Chief Public Prosecutor requested on 27 September that the court impose an international travel ban on Berberoğlu, which the court accepted.

Berberoğlu’s lawyers had requested in the previous hearing that the case be abated regarding their client as he has been elected to the Parliament in Turkey’s 24 June elections. Berberoğlu’s lawyers reiterated the request during the hearing, while Dündar and Gül’s lawyers requested that the courtroom proceedings be opened to the public.

In its interim ruling at the end of the hearing, the court decided to evaluate the request for abatement of proceedings in the next hearing and rejected the request for a public trial on grounds that the subject of the case concerned public security, and adjourned the trial until 6 February 2019.

Faruk Arhan given deferred sentence 

On 9 October, an Istanbul court sentenced journalist Faruk Arhan to a jail term of six months and seven days for “degrading the state of the Turkish Republic, the Turkish nation, and the organs and institutions of the state” in his social media posts.

The journalist was standing trial for his social media posts concerning the curfews and police operations in the southeastern town of Cizre.

The Istanbul 59th Criminal Court of First Instance deferred the sentence by five years, which means Arhan will be under probation for the next five years, at the end of which the sentence will be dismissed in case Arhan is not convicted in another case.

Espionage trial against Nazlı Ilıcak adjourned until January 

The latest hearing in a trial into imprisoned journalist Nazlı Ilıcak, in which she stands accused of “espionage” for a newspaper column she wrote in 2015, was held on 9 October in Istanbul.

Ilıcak addressed the 26th High Criminal Court of Istanbul from the Bakırköy Women’s Prison via the courtroom video-conferencing system SEGBİS during the hearing, which was monitored by P24.

Ilıcak gave her final defense statement in response to the prosecutor’s final opinion of the case during the hearing.

Speaking about the document she is being accused of disclosing in her column, Ilıcak said she only used a photograph of the said document and that she did not distribute it. Ilıcak added that the document was delivered to her through her public social media account on Twitter and that she would have retweeted it had she had the intention of sharing it with other people.

Ilıcak’s statement was interrupted by the chief judge, who stated that the panel was the substitute panel of the court, and also that some evidence had yet to be added in the case file. Ilıcak then requested for her acquittal and wrapped up her statement.

Ilıcak’s lawyer Kemal Ertuğ Derin then told the court that the case should be dismissed based on the statute of limitations in Turkey’s Press Law, and requested that his client be acquitted.

Announcing its interim ruling at the end of the hearing, the court adjourned the trial until 22 January 2019 awaiting the submission of lacking documents in the case file.

Court rules to keep Şirin Kabakçı behind bars in third hearing

Jailed journalist Şirin Kabakçı, former Konya bureau chief for Zaman daily, appeared before an Istanbul court on 9 October for the third hearing of his trial, where he stands accused of “membership in a terrorist organization” for his ties with the now-defunct newspaper.

P24 monitored the hearing, during which Kabakçı addressed the 35th High Criminal Court of Istanbul via SEGBİS from the Konya prison, where he has been in pretrial detention for the past 1-and-a-half years.

Rejecting the accusations in his defense statement, Kabakçı requested for his release.

In its interim ruling at the end of the hearing, the court ordered the continuation of Kabakçı’s pretrial detention and adjourned the trial until 26 December 2018.

Çağdaş Kaplan taken into custody for social media posts

Çağdaş Kaplan, the editor in chief of the daily Yeni Yaşam, was taken into custody on 6 October in Istanbul on the charge of “conducting propaganda for a terrorist group” in his social media posts.

Kaplan was taken to the Göztepe Police Station, from where he was referred to the İstanbul Courthouse the next day. Kaplan was released after giving his statement before a prosecutor.

Speaking to the online newspaper Gazete Karınca following his release, Kaplan said the grounds for his detention was that he had shared on social media his bylined news reports from four years ago, and that he was detained based on a complaint.

Trial into four Peace Academics adjourned until January 

The third hearing in the trial of four academics who signed a 2016 declaration by the Academics for Peace initiative was held on 9 October at the Istanbul 13th High Criminal Court. Academics Esra Mungan, Kıvanç Ersoy, Muzaffer Kaya and Meral Camcı are charged with “conducting propaganda for a terrorist organization.”

It was revealed at the hearing that the prosecutor had submitted his final opinion on the case before Tuesday’s session, seeking up to 7.5 years in prison for each defendant on the “propaganda” charge. Mungan and Camcı requested additional time to prepare their final defense statements. The trial was adjourned until 28 January 2019.

A report about the hearing, monitored by P24, can be accessed here. 

Woman convicted of “insulting Atatürk,” released from jail

An Ankara court has convicted a woman named Safiye İnci for her comments about Turkey’s founder Mustafa Kemal Atatürk in a video she had shot in Anıtkabir. At the end of the second hearing of the case, the Ankara 28th Criminal Court of First Instance sentenced İnci to 2.5 years in prison and ruled for her release. İnci had been jailed since 22 July for violating the Law on Offences Committed Against Atatürk.

List of jailed journalists and media workers

P24 has updated its list of jailed journalists and media workers, compiled using information available in open sources.

Following the recent inclusions in the list of Jin News reporter Kibriye Evren and former Zaman domestic news editor Abdullah Dirican, as of 13 October 2018, there are at least 176 journalists and media workers in prison in Turkey either in pretrial detention or serving a sentence.

The full list can be accessed here.