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 - 161

Freedom of Expression and the Press in Turkey - 161

Court rules to issue Red Notice alerts for Can Dündar and İlhan Tanır; appellate court issues reasoned judgment in Altans case


The 2nd Criminal Chamber of the Istanbul Regional Court of Justice has written its reasoned judgment concerning its rejection of the appeals against the aggravated life sentences given to Ahmet Altan, Mehmet Altan, Nazlı Ilıcak and their three co-defendants on “coup” charges.

The 42-page reasoned judgment of the appellate court was made public on 17 October by the state-run Anadolu news agency.

Lawyers representing Ahmet Altan and Mehmet Altan issued a public statement in relation to the appellate court’s judgment, asserting that neither Turkey’s Constitutional Court nor the European Court of Human Rights had found incriminating evidence in the file.

Noting that procedural provisions and the principle of a fair trial were disregarded throughout the proceedings, the lawyers also wrote that the offense of “violating the constitution” as defined under “Article 309/1 of the Turkish Criminal Code, was subjected to a de facto modification in defiance of the intention of the legislative body.”

An English translation of the statement can be accessed here.

“Espionage” case against Alayumat and Akman adjourned 

The fourth hearing in the trial against former Dicle media news agency (Dihaber) reporters Erdoğan Alayumat and Nuri Akman on “espionage” and “terrorist group membership” charges took place on 19 October in Hatay.

Alayumat and Akman did not attend the hearing at the 2nd High Criminal Court of Hatay. The court ruled to adjourn the trial awaiting response from the Turkish General Staff and the National Intelligence Organization (MİT) concerning a writ in which the court inquired about the photographs on which the charges against the journalists are based.

“Insulting the president” case adjourned until December

The 10th hearing in a trial where columnist and author Perihan Mağden and journalists Tunca Öğreten, Orhan Şahin and Mehmet Çağlar Tekin stand accused of “insulting the president” took place on 18 October at the Istanbul 2nd Criminal Court of First Instance.

The charges stem from an interview with Mağden, posted on September 14, 2015, on the news portal Diken. Tekin is on trial for posting the same interview on the website of the Yurt newspaper.

Öğreten made his defense statement during the hearing. Telling the court that the interview did not involve any insulting remarks, Öğreten requested for his acquittal.

In its interim ruling at the end of the hearing, the court decided to inquire of the Istanbul Chief Public Prosecutor's Office the responsible managing editor of Yurt newspaper at the time and to whom the editor reported to and adjourned the trial until 27 December 2018.

Yasin Kobulan to stand trial on “propaganda” charge

Mezopotamya news agency (MA) reporter Yasin Kobulan will be standing trial on the charge of “disseminating propaganda for a terrorist organization” for his social media posts.

An indictment issued recently by the Istanbul Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office alleges that Kobulan “shared posts that made Turkish military’s operations targeting terrorists in Southeast [Turkey] to look as though they were massacres, and that legitimized the terrorist group’s actions that involved violence.”

The prosecution seeks up to 13 years imprisonment for Kobulan. He will appear before the 30th High Criminal Court of Istanbul on 26 December for the first hearing of his trial.

Trial into Meşale Tolu and 26 others adjourned until January 

The latest hearing in a trial where 27 people including Etkin news agency (ETHA) reporter Meşale Tolu and her husband, Suat Çorlu, a member of the central executive board of the Socialist Party of the Oppressed (ESP), stand accused of terrorism-related charges, was held on 16 October at the 29th High Criminal Court of Istanbul.

Tolu was arrested and subsequently jailed pending trial in 2017 as part of the case. She is accused of being a member of the banned left-wing Marxist-Leninist Communist Party (MLKP). She was released under judicial control measures after 7.5 months of imprisonment at the end of the second hearing of the trial in December. Her travel ban was lifted in August.

Addressing the court during the hearing, Tolu, a German citizen, requested that her husband’s international travel ban be lifted.

In its interim ruling issued at the end of the hearing, the court decided to lift the judicial control measures imposed on defendants Suat Çorlu and Mukaddes Erdoğdu Çelik, setting 10 January 2019 as the date for the next hearing.

Video activist Oktay İnce briefly detained, his archive confiscated 

Oktay İnce, an Izmir-based video activist from the collective Seyri Sokak, was taken into custody on 16 October following a police raid on his home.

The raid was conducted on allegations that İnce “disseminated propaganda for TİKKO” through his video work -- TİKKO being the acronym for the militant group “the Liberation Army of the Workers and Peasants of Turkey.” Police searched İnce’s house and confiscated İnce’s entire archive of videos in which he documented demonstrations. İnce was then taken to the local police station to give his statement, after which he was released.

Court seeks Red Notice alerts for Can Dündar, İlhan Tanır

An Istanbul court on 16 October ruled that Turkey asks Interpol to issue Red Notice alerts for exiled journalists Can Dündar and İlhan Tanır as part of the “Cumhuriyet trial.”

Dündar, Cumhuriyet’s former editor-in-chief, and Tanır, the newspaper’s former Washington correspondent, were among defendants in the case, but did not appear in court, and arrest warrants are still in place against both journalists.

The 27th High Criminal Court of Istanbul had separated their files at the end of the final hearing in the “Cumhuriyet trial” on 25 April after it announced its verdicts concerning the rest of the defendants in the case.

The same day, another court in Istanbul overseeing another case against Dündar convicted the journalist. Istanbul’s 16th Criminal Court of First Instance sentenced Dündar to TL 10,000 in non-pecuniary damages “for insulting the president in his newspaper columns and in a series of articles.”

“Incitement” case against local journalists, politician, adjourned 

The latest hearing in a trial where journalists from two local newspapers in the Aegean town of Didim stand accused of “incitement” for publishing a press statement by local representatives from Turkey’s Labour Party (EMEP), took place on 16 October.

The statement by EMEP representatives was about Turkey’s military operation on the Syrian city of Afrin.

Mustafa Öge, the owner of Didim Özgürses, Ergün Korkmaz, who owns the newspaper Mavi Didim, and Erdem Özden, its reporter, as well as the district chair of EMEP, Kazım Temiz, attended the hearing at the Didim 1st Criminal Court of First Instance.

Öge made his defense statement during the hearing, rejecting the accusation and requesting for his acquittal. Following the defense statements, the court announced its interim ruling, adjourning the trial until 25 january 2019.

Nurcan Baysal delivers defense statement in “incitement” case

Journalist and author Nurcan Baysal on 16 October appeared before a court in Diyarbakır for the second hearing of a trial in which she stands accused of “openly inciting the public to hatred and animosity” through her social media posts.

The accusation stems from Baysal’s Twitter posts critical of Turkey’s military operation on Afrin, for which she was arrested for three days back in January. Baysal faces up to three years in prison if convicted.

P24 monitored the hearing at the Diyarbakır 7th Criminal Court of First Instance.

In her defense statement, Baysal rejected the accusation and told the court that the posts for which she was indicted were aimed at calling for peace and at criticizing the government’s foreign policy.

Addressing the court following Baysal, her lawyer, Reyhan Yalçındağ Baydemir made references to ECtHR’s judgments in favor of the right to freedom of expression and also submitted to the court a judgment by the 10th High Criminal Court of Antalya, which acquitted the defendant in a trial with similar facts, as precedent.

In its interim ruling announced at the end of the hearing, the court adjourned the trial until 14 February 2019 for the final defense statement to be prepared. 

Former Evrensel reporter to stand trial for covering 2014 demonstration 

Thirty-eight people who took part in a 2014 demonstration in Izmir in protest of the government in the aftermath of the graft probes publicly known as “17-25 December,” and a journalist who was at the scene to cover the demonstration, will be standing trial on the charge of “violating the Law on Demonstrations and Public Marches” almost four years after the demonstration.

Nineteen demonstrators had been detained and an investigation had been launched into the participants at the time. The investigation also covered journalist Eda Aktaş, who was a reporter for Evrensel at the time.

The investigation resulted in an indictment, which also accuses the demonstrators of “destroying public and private property, and resisting and obstructing law enforcement officers.”

The first hearing of the case is scheduled for 14 January 2019 at the 22nd Criminal Court of First Instance.

Teacher Ayşe Çelik’s sentence suspended for another 6 months 

A 15-month prison sentence given to school teacher Ayşe Çelik in 2017 has been suspended by an additional six months.

Çelik was convicted in 2017 of “disseminating propaganda for a terrorist organization” for her remarks on a live TV show in 2016. She was imprisoned on April 20 to serve that sentence. Çelik was released on probation in May, when the Diyarbakır Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office agreed to suspend her sentence by six months.

The current probation term for Çelik will end on 17 April 2019.

Academic given jail term for “propaganda,” sentence deferred

An Istanbul court on 16 October convicted one more academic of “conducting propaganda for a terrorist organization” for signing a 2016 declaration by the Academics for Peace initiative. The 36th High Criminal Court of Istanbul sentenced Koç University academic B.C.B. to a prison term of 1 year and 3 months at the third and final hearing of the trial. The court deferred the sentence.

Musician Ülker Sarı jailed on “propaganda” charge 

Ülker Sarı, a member of the music band Vardiya, was jailed pending trial on 16 October in Istanbul. Sarı had been taken into custody a day before on grounds of a search warrant that came up during a criminal record check (GBT) by the police. Sarı is charged with “conducting propaganda for a terrorist organization by way of the demonstrations and other events he had taken part in” in 2013.

Factory worker jailed on “insulting the president” charge

A factory worker who goes by the initials S.K. was jailed pending trial in the northwestern province of Tekirdağ on the accusation that he “insulted President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on social media.” S.K. was arrested in his house in the town of Çorlu based on a warrant issued by the prosecutor. He was brought before a court, which jailed the worker.

List of journalists and media workers in prison 

As of 19 October 2018, at least 176 journalists and other media workers are in prison in Turkey either in pretrial detention or serving a sentence. 

The full list can be accessed here.