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 - 248

Freedom of Expression and the Press in Turkey - 248

Three journalists released, three remain behind bars as their trial on “Disclosing identity of MİT official” charge begins; journalist Özgür Paksoy handed down prison sentence; court upholds Canan Kaftancıoğlu’s sentence


RTÜK launches investigation against Tele 1 TV


The Radio and Television Supreme Council (RTÜK) has launched an inquiry against Tele1 TV over journalist Merdan Yanardağ’s comments about the Ottoman Sultan Abdülhamit in a recent episode of the daily show “18 Dakika” (18 Minutes). RTÜK President Ebubekir Şahin announced the inquiry on his personal Twitter account.


“RedHack trial” adjourned until December


The “RedHack trial,” where six journalists stand accused of “disseminating propaganda for a terrorist organization,” “hindrance or destruction of a data processing system,” “aiding a terrorist organization without being its member” and “terrorist group membership” for their coverage of Minister Berat Albayrak’s emails leaked by RedHack, resumed on 25 June 2020 at the 29th High Criminal Court of Istanbul.

This was the 10th hearing in the trial and journalists Mahir Kanaat, Tunca Öğreten and Eray Sargın were in attendance in the courtroom with their lawyers. As part of measures against Covid-19, no spectators or press members were allowed to monitor the hearing.

In its interim ruling, the court ordered the continuation of the travel bans imposed on journalists Mahir Kanaat, Ömer Çelik, Metin Yoksu and Tunca Öğreten. Also ruling for the examination of a 2020 case file against Kanaat to determine if it should be merged with the current case, the court adjourned the trial until 15 December 2020.


Journalist Sabiha Temizkan’s trial adjourned


The trial of journalist Sabiha Temizkan on the charge of “disseminating propaganda for a terrorist organization” over a Twitter post she shared in 2014 got underway on 25 June 2020 at the 35th High Criminal Court of Istanbul. P24 monitored the hearing, where Temizkan was not in attendance due to health issues. Accepting Temizkan’s excuse letter, the court adjourned the trial until 22 September 2020.

Court rules for stay of proceedings in Ahmet Altan’s trial

The fifth hearing in the trial of imprisoned novelist and journalist Ahmet Altan over a 2010 article he penned for the shuttered Taraf daily took place on 25 June 2020 at Istanbul’s Anadolu 10th Criminal Court of First Instance.


Filed upon a complaint by the late former President Süleyman Demirel, the case sought punishment for Altan for “failure to publish a correction” for his article titled “Ölüm babanın emri” (Death is the father’s command).

Altan addressed the court via the judicial video-conferencing system SEGBİS. At the end of the hearing, the court ruled for a stay of proceedings on the grounds that the Supreme Court of Appeals has yet to finalize the verdict against Altan in a previous trial overseen by the Istanbul 32nd Criminal Court of First Instance, which led to the reopening of this case file.


Oktay Candemir’s trial adjourned

Journalist Oktay Candemir’s trial on the charge of “resisting police officers in the exercise of their duty” that was set to get underway on 25 June 2020 at Van’s 5th Criminal Court of First Instance, was adjourned to a later date because the presiding judge was on leave. The case was launched upon complaints filed by police officers who arrested the journalist in May 2019 as he was covering a public statement by a group of CSOs in the city.


Trial of journalists Sibel Hürtaş and Hayri Demir adjourned


The trial of 11 people including journalists Sibel Hürtaş and Hayri Demir over their social media posts about Turkey’s 2018 military operation on Syria’s Afrin resumed on 25 June 2020 at Ankara’s 15th High Criminal Court. All 11 are accused of “terrorism propaganda” and “inciting the public to hatred and animosity” in the trial.


The prosecution has been seeking to charge Demir with an additional charge under Article 301 of the Turkish Penal Code (TCK), which is only possible through a special permit from the Justice Ministry.


In its interim ruling, the court ruled to wait for the Justice Ministry’s permit, rejected all other requests by the defendants and adjourned the trial until 25 November 2020.


Journalist Özgür Paksoy handed down prison term over cartoon


Journalist Özgür Paksoy was given a prison sentence of 11 months and 20 days at the first hearing of his trial on the charge of “insulting the president” on 25 June 2020. Paksoy was on trial because he had shared on social media a cartoon by Carlos Latuff about the 2015 murder of lawyer Tahir Elçi, who was the president of the Diyarbakır Bar Association. The İdil Criminal Court of First Instance deferred Paksoy’s sentence.


Three journalists released at first hearing of their trial for “exposing MİT operative”


The trial of seven journalists and one municipal press officer over news coverage and social media posts about a National Intelligence Organization (MİT) operative killed in Libya in February got underway on 24 June 2020 at the 34th High Criminal Court of Istanbul.


In its interim ruling at the end of the hearing, the court released Barış Terkoğlu, Aydın Keser and Ferhat Çelik under an international travel ban and ruled for the continuation of Barış Pehlivan, Hülya Kılınç and Murat Ağırel’s detention on remand. The court adjourned the trial until 9 September.


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


Final hearing in journalist Deniz Yücel’s trial adjourned 


The seventh hearing in the trial of Deniz Yücel, Die Welt’s former Turkey correspondent, on the charges of “disseminating propaganda for a terrorist organization” and “inciting hatred and animosity” took place on 24 June 2020 at the 32nd High Criminal Court of Istanbul.


In its interim ruling, the court decided to re-examine Yücel’s case file and adjourned the trial until 16 July.


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


Evrensel columnist Ender İmrek’s trial adjourned 

Ender İmrek, a columnist for Evrensel daily, appeared in court on 24 June 2020 for the latest hearing in his trial over a June 2019 article he penned about an expensive purse used by President Erdoğan’s wife, Emine Erdoğan. İmrek is accused of “insult” in the case.


During the hearing held at the Bakırköy 2nd Criminal Court of First Instance, İmrek and his lawyers delivered their defense statements. 


In its interim ruling, the court accepted a request by Emine Erdoğan’s lawyer to participate in the trial and ruled for İmrek to be held exempt from attending hearings in person. The trial was adjourned until 8 October 2020.


Journalist Ahmet Kanbal accused of “insult” in new case

A trial was launched against Mezopotamya news agency (MA) reporter Ahmet Kanbal on the charge of “insulting a public official” over a post he shared on social media in April. The prosecution claims that Kanbal’s post insulted Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu. The indictment against Kanbal was recently accepted by the Mardin 1st Criminal Court of First Instance.


Regional court upholds Canan Kaftancıoğlu’s sentence


The 2nd Criminal Chamber of the Istanbul Regional Court of Justice, an appellate court, on 23 June upheld a combined prison sentence of 9 years, 8 months and 20 days given last year to main opposition CHP’s Istanbul provincial chair Canan Kaftancıoğlu on five separate charges over her social media posts.


At the end of her trial, the Istanbul 37th High Criminal Court had sentenced Kaftancıoğlu to 2 years and 4 months for “insulting the president,” 1 year and 8 months for “publicly degrading the state of the Turkish Republic,” 2 years and 8 months for “incitement to hatred and animosity,” 1 year, 6 months and 20 days for “insulting a public official” and 1 year and 6 months for “terrorism propaganda.”


Ailing journalist Mevlüt Öztaş released from prison


Journalist Mevlüt Öztaş, who was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer while imprisoned, was released after a medical report that declared Öztaş unfit for detention was accepted by the Forensic Medicine Institute. The 2nd High Criminal Court of Uşak ruled to postpone the execution of Öztaş’s sentence and ordered the journalist to be released. Öztaş’s release was announced by his daughter, Büşra Öztaş, on 23 June on Twitter.


Public ad agency imposes 45-day ban on Evrensel over Zarakolu’s article


The Press Advertising Agency (BİK) imposed on Evrensel daily a 45-day ban on running public ads over columnist Ragıp Zarakolu’s May 2020 article titled “Makus kaderden kaçış yok” (No escape from ill-fate). The Istanbul Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office is currently conducting an investigation against Zarakolu over the same article.


Journalist Rıfat Doğan’s trial adjourned


The second hearing in the trial of Artı Gerçek reporter Rıfat Doğan on the allegation that he took photographs inside the courtroom during a hearing of the Çorlu train crash trial took place on 23 June 2020 at Çorlu 4th Criminal Court of First Instance.


Doğan is accused of “recording or broadcasting audio or visual material during an investigation or a trial without authorization.” Accepting to hear the witnesses requested by Doğan’s lawyers, the court adjourned the trial until 8 December 2020.


Court imposes publication ban on trial of journalist Mustafa Gökkılıç and others


The trial of 34 people on charges including “attempting to overthrow the government,” “membership of an armed terrorist group” and “political or military espionage” over the 2012 “MİT crisis,” in which the head of Turkey’s National Intelligence Organization (MİT) Hakan Fidan and several intelligence officials were summoned to testify in court, began on 22 June 2020 in Istanbul.


Mustafa Gökkılıç, a former reporter for Habertürk TV and the now-defunct Radikal newspaper, is one of the defendants in the case and has been in pre-trial detention since 19 July 2018 as part of the investigation.


The 23rd High Criminal Court of Istanbul issued a publication ban concerning the trial at the beginning of the hearing on the grounds that matters that may jeopardize national security may be revealed in court.


Journalist Aziz Oruç accused of “propaganda,” “terrorist group membership” in new indictment


Jailed journalist Aziz Oruç and five others are charged with terrorrism-related offenses in an indictment recently accepted by the 2nd High Criminal Court of Ağrı.


Oruç was jailed pending trial in Ağrı in December 2019 after he was forced to cross the Turkish-Iranian border by Iranian authorities. Muhammet İkram Müftüoğlu and HDP Doğubayazıt District Co-Chair Abdullah Ekelek were also jailed on the grounds that they helped Oruç.


The indictment accuses Oruç of “membership of a terrorist group” and “terrorism propaganda” while Muhammet İkram Müftüoğlu, Abdullah Ekelek and the undetained defendants Dicle Müftüoğlu, who is a journalist, and Turgay Yılboğa and Yücel İlhan are charged with “knowingly aiding a terrorist organization.”


The first hearing of their trial is set for 21 July 2020.


Court blocks access to six titles in Ekşi Sözlük


The Anadolu 8th Criminal Judgeship of Peace ordered an access ban on content under six different titles in the online forum Ekşi Sözlük. The judgeship ordered the access bans in three separate rulings it issued on 19 June 2020. The title about “Emine Erdoğan’s purse” and another one concerning the President’s son, Bilal Erdoğan, were among pages blocked for access.


List of journalists and media workers in prison


As of 26 June 2020, at least 93 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.