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 - 242

Freedom of Expression and the Press in Turkey - 242

Evrensel journalists called in for questioning over Ragıp Zarakolu’s article; HSK launches investigation against two judges over social media posts


Evrensel’s chief editor called in for questioning


Evrensel daily’s Editor-in-Chief Fatih Polat and Responsible Managing Editor Görkem Kınacı were called in for questioning in connection with an investigation against columnist Ragıp Zarakolu over his article titled “Makus kaderden kaçış yok” (No escape from ill fate). Polat and Kınacı gave their statements at the Istanbul Police Department on 14 May. They said the article criticized coups and did not constitute a crime.


The investigation was launched after President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and Presidential Communications Director Fahrettin Altun filed separate complaints against Zarakolu’s article.


Evrensel imposed new advertising ban


The Press Advertising Agency (BİK) imposed a five-day public ad ban on Evrensel daily over İhsan Çaralan’s article titled “Hükümet vatandaşına şehit olmayı vaat eder mi?” (Do states promise martyrdom to their citizens?) published on 24 February 2020. The agency claimed that Çaralan’s article violated the Press Code of Ethics.


The agency also requested a defense statement from Evrensel for an interview published on 2 March 2020 and titled “Kimin için canını verdi bu gençler” (For whom did these young people die?), about people who died during Turkey’s military engagements in Syria and Libya.


Journalist Can Ataklı to stand trial


Journalist Can Ataklı will be standing trial for his commentary during a program that aired on 23 March on the TV station Tele 1. The indictment, issued by the Istanbul Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office, seeks up to 1 year and 6 months in prison for Ataklı on the charge of “inciting the public to hatred and animosity or degrading the public” for his comments about a teacher on EBA TV, Turkey’s distance education program.


The indictment against Can Ataklı (in Turkish) can be accessed here.


The Istanbul 22nd Criminal Court of First Instance accepted the indictment and set 7 October 2020 as the date for the first hearing.


Two judges face investigation over social media posts 


The Council of Judges and Prosecutors (HSK) has launched an investigation against judge Orhan Gazi Ertekin for a post he shared on social media about Grup Yorum member İbrahim Gökçek, who died on 7 May following a hunger strike. Ertekin is accused of “disseminating propaganda for a terrorist organization.” 


HSK also suspended Ayşe Sarısu Pehlivan, a judge based in Izmir, and the President of the Judges’ Union, for expressing her sorrow over Gökçek’s death. The Izmir Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office also launched an investigation against her on the charge of “disseminating propaganda for a terrorist organization.”


Professor Gazi Çağlar charged with “propaganda” in new indictment


An additional indictment was issued against Professor Gazi Çağlar over a number of social media posts. Çağlar previously faced two trials over his social media posts and was sentenced to 1 year, 2 months and 17 days in prison on the charge of “insulting the president.”


Çağlar is accused of “disseminating propaganda for FETÖ and PKK” in the additional indictment, submitted to the 2nd High Criminal Court of Yozgat, overseeing his trial. Çağlar announced the additional indictment on Twitter.


Objection to access ban on Independent Türkçe rejected


The objection filed against the access ban on the news portal Independent Türkçe’s website was rejected on 13 May by the Ankara 8th Criminal Judgeship of Peace. Access to a number of news portals including Independent Türkçe and Saudi Arabia’s Official News Agency have been blocked since April by the Information and Communication Technologies Authority (BTK).


ECtHR’s Osman Kavala judgment becomes final


The European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) rejected Turkey’s request for the chamber judgment in Osman Kavala’s application to be referred to the Grand Chamber, finalizing the 10 December 2019 judgment which held that Kavala’s detention on remand violated his right to liberty and security and that Turkey should secure his immediate release.


A report about the ruling can be accessed here.


Court rules for temporary stay of execution for RTÜK ban on Halk TV


The Ankara 10th Administrative Court temporarily lifted a broadcast ban imposed by the Radio and Television Supreme Council (RTÜK) on the Halk TV show “Medya Mahallesi,” presented by journalist Ayşenur Arslan. Stating that RTÜK enforced the decision without informing Halk TV and without hearing their defense statement, the court ruled that the ban was unlawful.


Local municipality faces investigation over social media post


An investigation was launched against the Saray Municipality in Tekirdağ province for a post their press office shared on 6 May on social media commemorating Deniz Gezmiş, Yusuf Aslan and Hüseyin İnan, leftist activists who were executed on 6 May 1972.


As part of the investigation launched by the Saray Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office, the employee responsible for the municipality’s social media accounts was called in for questioning. Also as part of the investigation, police requested the mayorship to remove the post.


Trials postponed as part of Coronavirus containment measures


Trials and other legal procedures at courthouses across Turkey -- except for trials of persons in detention on remand -- have been temporarily put on hold as of 16 March 2020 as part of efforts to mitigate the spread of Covid-19. Hearings are expected to resume on 15 June.


A trial where six journalists, including Bloomberg reporters Kerim Karakaya and Fercan Yalınkılıç, and 32 social media users are accused of “violating the Capital Market Law,” that was scheduled for 8 May at Istanbul’s 3rd Criminal Court of First Instance, was postponed to 23 October 2020.


The trial of Necla Demir, Gazete Karınca news portal’s former responsible editor, scheduled for 13 May at Istanbul’s Bakırköy 8th Criminal Court of First Instance, was postponed until 8 October 2020.


Journalist Abdullah Kaya’s trial, scheduled for 13 May at the Ağrı 2nd High Criminal Court, was postponed to 20 October 2020.


The trial of former Özgür Gündem journalists Hüseyin Aykol, Reyhan Çapan and Hasan Başak, scheduled for 14 May at the 13th High Criminal Court of Istanbul, was postponed to 16 June 2020.


The final hearing of the “Özgür Gündem main trial,” scheduled for 15 May at the 23rd High Criminal Court of Istanbul, was postponed until 9 September 2020.


List of journalists and media workers in prison updated


P24 has updated its list of journalists and media workers in prison upon discovering that Çetin Çiftçi, the former parliamentary correspondent for the shuttered Bugün newspaper, was in prison.


Accordingly, as of 15 May 2020, at least 102 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.