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 – 233

Freedom of Expression and the Press in Turkey – 233

Osman Kavala faces additional “espionage” charge in coup investigation; newspaper terminates Timur Soykan’s contract for supporting fellow journalists arrested in connection with Odatv report


Trial of journalists İsminaz Temel and Havva Cuştan adjourned

The eighth hearing in the trial of Etkin news agency (ETHA) editor İsminaz Temel and reporter Havva Cuştan and 21 others on “terrorism propaganda” and “membership of a terrorist group” charges took place on 13 March 2020 at the 27th High Criminal Court of Istanbul.

P24 monitored the hearing. Temel and Cuştan did not attend. Nine other defendants and defense lawyers were in attendance.

Temel’s lawyer Ömer Çakırgöz asked the court to lift his client’s international travel ban so she can travel to Germany to visit her mother, who is currently undergoing medical treatment. Other defense lawyers also asked the court to lift the travel ban imposed on their clients. The court rejected the requests and adjourned the trial until 10 June.

Posta newspaper terminates Timur Soykan’s contract

Posta, a daily newspaper under the pro-government Demirören media group, terminated the contract of its news director Timur Soykan. The termination of contract came after Soykan hung posters featuring a message in support of journalists jailed as part of the Odatv investigation on the office notice board.

Top court: Access ban violated freedom of expression of

The Constitutional Court ruled that an access ban imposed on the news portal Sendika.Org in July 2015 by an order of the now-defunct Directorate of Telecommunication and Communication (TİB) violated freedom of expression. After the initial access ban imposed on 25 July 2015, the website was blocked 61 more times as it continued operating under new domain names. The top court asked the criminal judgeship of peace that ordered the access ban to revoke its order.

Prosecutor seeks conviction for Evrensel columnist Yusuf Karataş

The eighth hearing in the trial of Evrensel columnist Yusuf Karataş on the charge of “establishing a terrorist organization” on account of his participation in Democratic Society Congress (DTK) meetings took place on 11 March 2020 at the 9th High Criminal Court of Diyarbakır. Karataş did not attend the hearing. He was represented by his lawyer Diren Elif Vurgun.

The prosecution presented their final opinion during the hearing, asking the court to convict Karataş of “membership of a terrorist group” instead of the charge in the indictment, claiming that Karataş was an active member of the DTK. Issuing an interim ruling at the end of the hearing, the court ordered the continuation of Karataş’s international travel ban and adjourned the trial until 4 May.

Prosecutor seeks conviction for journalist Mehmet Çakmakçı

The trial of journalist Mehmet Çakmakçı on the charge of “membership of a terrorist group” resumed on 11 March 2020 at the 10th High Criminal Court of Diyarbakır.

This was the seventh hearing in the trial. Presenting their final opinion of the case, the prosecution asked the court to convict Çakmakçı of “membership of the PKK/KCK armed terrorist organization.”

Granting Çakmakçı’s lawyer Resul Tamur additional time for the preparation of their final defense statement, the court adjourned the trial until 10 June.

Journalist Engin Korkmaz’s trial on “insult” charge adjourned until September

Engin Korkmaz, the responsible editor of the local newspaper Antalya Körfez, appeared in an Antalya court on 11 March 2020 for the second hearing of his trial on the charge of “insulting the president.”

Korkmaz, who is also the president of the Mediterranean branch of Turkey’s Progressive Journalists Association (ÇGD), is on trial over his social media posts.

After hearing Korkmaz’s defense statement, Antalya’s 19th Criminal Court of First Instance adjourned the trial until 9 September, granting the defense additional time to submit to the court judgments by the European Court of Human Rights that could set a precedent for Korkmaz’s case.

Trial of journalist Kibriye Evren adjourned until July

Jin News editor Kibriye Evren’s trial on the charges of “membership of a terrorist group” and “terrorism propaganda” resumed on 10 March 2020 at the 5th High Criminal Court of Diyarbakır.

This was the ninth hearing in the trial. Evren did not attend due to health issues. She was represented by her lawyers Pirozhan Karali and Resul Tamur, who presented to the court a medical report about her condition and asked the court to postpone the hearing to a later date.

In its interim ruling, the court lifted Evren’s obligation to regularly go to the nearest police station to give her signature but ordered the continuation of her international travel ban and set 14 July as the date for the next hearing.

Osman Kavala faces additional “espionage” charge in coup investigation

Jailed businessperson and philanthropist Osman Kavala is facing an additional charge after the Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office of Istanbul found “new evidence” as part of the ongoing investigation into the coup attempt of 15 July 2016.

Kavala, who has been behind bars since November 2017, first concerning the Gezi Park trial, and currently on “coup” allegations, gave his statement to a criminal judgeship of peace late on 9 March 2020 in relation to the new charge of “procuring confidential state documents for political or military espionage purposes.”

The judgeship ruled for Kavala’s imprisonment pending trial on the additional charge, just a day before the European Court of Human Rights’ judgment, which held that Kavala’s detention violated his rights to liberty and security and freedom of expression, was to become final.

For more information, see this report.

Halk TV fined by broadcasting watchdog RTÜK

Turkey’s broadcasting watchdog, the Radio and Television Supreme Council (RTÜK), fined the TV station Halk TV for a program that aired on 24 February 2020. RTÜK imposed an administrative fine on Halk TV on the grounds that it “disclosed the identities of martyred National Intelligence Organization [MİT] operatives and breached the rule of law” pursuant to Article 8 of the Law on the Establishment of Radio and Television Enterprises.

Compensation case against Cumhuriyet daily rejected by court

A compensation case filed against Cumhuriyet daily by former AKP lawmaker Burhan Kuzu was rejected by Ankara’s 23rd Civil Court of First Instance. Kuzu was seeking the compensation of non-pecuniary damages over a news report by Cumhuriyet, which featured a photo of Kuzu with the Iranian drug lord Naji Sharifi Zindashti.

Yeni Yaşam editors, Yeniçağ columnist jailed one day after being released

Three journalists from two news outlets who were summoned by the Istanbul Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office on 6 March 2020 to give their statements as part of the investigation into Odatv’s report, were jailed pending trial on 8 March 2020, two days after being initially released under judicial control measures by a criminal judgeship of peace.

After the prosecution objected to their release, Yeni Yaşam daily’s Editor-in-Chief Ferhat Çelik, Responsible Editor Aydın Keser and Murat Ağırel, a columnist for Yeniçağ daily, were summoned back to the Istanbul Courthouse on 8 March, after which the 5th Criminal Judgeship of Peace ruled to jail all three pending trial.

For details, see this report.

Top court rules public ad ban on Yeni Akit violated freedom of expression

The Constitutional Court ruled that a day-long public advertisement ban imposed on Yeni Akit newspaper over a 16 January 2014 article by a columnist violated freedom of expression and freedom of the press. Ruling on Yeni Akit’s application on 9 January 2020, the Constitutional Court’s First Section rejected the newspaper’s compensation claim.

List of journalists and media workers in prison

As of 13 March 2020, at least 105 journalists and media workers are in prison in Turkey, either in pre-trial detention or serving a sentence.

The full list can be accessed here.