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 - 257

Freedom of Expression and the Press in Turkey - 257

Journalist Erkan Akkuş jailed pending trial; journalist Özgür Boğatekin sent to prison over 2015 news coverage; Can Ataklı charged with “insulting the president”; RTÜK fines Tele 1 TV over Evrensel commercial



RTÜK fines Tele 1 TV over Evrensel commercial


The Radio and Television Supreme Council (RTÜK) imposed an administrative fine on Tele 1 TV over a commercial marking the 25th anniversary of Evrensel daily.


The broadcasting watchdog said a scene from the video showing a girl holding a red scarf with patterns in yellow and green violated Article 8 of Law no. 6112: “Media services shall not glorify and encourage  terror, display terrorist organizations as powerful or justified and portray terrifying and deterrent features of terrorist organizations.”


Interior Ministry to initiate legal action against Tele 1


Turkey’s Interior Ministry announced that they would launch legal action against Tele 1 over an online news report about Musa Orhan, a sergeant who was jailed pending trial on sexual assault charges and released a week later.


The report titled “Soylu’nun sahip çıktığı uzman çavuş Musa Orhan tahliye edildi” (Sergeant protected by Soylu released pending trial) was published online on 26 August 2020 on Tele 1’s website


In a statement issued the same day, the Ministry claimed that Tele 1 “aimed to tarnish the image of Turkey’s legal system and government bodies” and said “all necessary legal actions would be initiated against Tele 1 TV and those media outlets backed by terrorist organizations that have been making amoral calumnious accusations.”


Journalist Can Ataklı charged with “insulting the president”


Journalist Can Ataklı is accused of “insulting the president” in a new indictment over his remarks during the 26 February 2020 episode of the daily morning show he hosts on Tele 1 TV, titled “Gün Başlıyor.”


The indictment issued by the Istanbul Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office accuses Ataklı over his commentary about the special taxes introduced after the 1999 Izmit earthquake. Ataklı faces up to 4 years and 8 months in prison if convicted.


Journalist Özgür Boğatekin’s sentence postponed due to Covid-19 


Özgür Boğatekin, the news director of Gerger Fırat, a local newspaper published in Adıyaman province, surrendered to the Adıyaman Semi-Open Prison on 26 August 2020 to serve a sentence he was given in 2015 in a defamation case.


Boğatekin was released the same day under judicial control measures after the execution of his sentence was postponed due to the Covid-19 pandemic.


For further information, see this report.


Former Bugün TV anchor Erkan Akkuş imprisoned pending trial 


Erkan Akkuş, a former newscaster and news director at the shuttered television channels Kanaltürk and Bugün TV, was jailed pending trial on 24 August 2020, three days after being arrested by anti-terror police in Kocaeli province.


Following his arrest, Akkuş was transferred to Istanbul, where he faced an arrest warrant as part of an investigation targeting the alleged “media leg of the Fethullahist Terrorist Organization/Parallel State Structure (FETÖ/PDY).”


Istanbul’s 1st Criminal Judgeship of Peace jailed Akkuş pending trial on the charge of “membership of a terrorist organization.” Akkuş was sent to the Silivri Prison.


For further information, see this report.


Court rejects journalists Kılınç, Pehlivan and Ağırel’s release request


The court overseeing the trial of journalists accused of “disclosing the identity of a national intelligence operative killed in Libya” rejected an appeal seeking Hülya Kılınç, Barış Pehlivan and Murat Ağırel’s release pending trial. The 34th High Criminal Court of Istanbul ruled unanimously on 21 August 2020 to keep all three journalists behind bars. The court cited “flight risk” and risk of “tampering with evidence” among the grounds for its ruling.


Judgeship rules to keep journalist Müyesser Yıldız behind bars


Odatv Ankara News Director Müyesser Yıldız, who was jailed pending trial in June, has been ordered to remain behind bars. Ankara’s 5th Criminal Judgeship of Peace cited “the risk of the suspects committing acts that could be detrimental to the functioning of justice” as the grounds for its 10 August 2020 ruling.


Yıldız’s lawyer Erhan Tokatlı filed a complaint with the Council of Judges and Prosecutors (HSK) against the judgeship.


Owner of news portal assaulted in Ordu 


Samet Girmeç, the owner of the news portal “Haber Ünye Portal” based in Ünye, a district of the Black Sea province Ordu, applied to the local police department last week saying he was beaten up by two assailants over his articles about Ordu Mayor Hilmi Güler.


Asserting in his statement to the police that two men battered him for 40 minutes, Girmeç filed complaints against Güler for “instigation” and the two assailants for “intentional injury, threat, insult and deprivation of liberty.”


Ministry calls on RTÜK to take action against Netflix film


Turkey’s Ministry of Family, Labor and Social Services on 20 August appealed to RTÜK concerning the French film “Mignonnes” (Cuties), calling on the broadcasting watchdog to “evaluate” and “take preventative measures” against the drama, which will begin streaming on Netflix on 9 September. The film has already stirred criticism worldwide over its promotional artwork released by Netflix. The Ministry asked RTÜK to “take necessary precautions” on the grounds that the film “may normalize the neglect and abuse of children, and have a negative influence on their psychosocial development.”


Journalists targeted in Nevşehir and Antalya


An armed attack was carried out at 3:30 a.m. on 25 August on the home of Yakup Kocabaş, Dim Medya’s Gazipaşa district representative in Antalya. Though no one was hurt, the apartment’s windows broke as a result of the attack. Kocabaş said that he had been receiving threats due to his news reports.


In a separate incident also on 25 August, unidentified assailants in the Central Anatolian province of Nevşehir set fire to a vehicle belonging to the Nevşehir Journalists Association that was parked in front of their building.


Arif Kocabayık taken into custody over YouTube video


Arif Kocabıyık, a YouTuber who conducts street interviews and posts them on his YouTube channel “İlave Tv,” was taken into custody on 25 August 2020 in Kahramanmaraş province. Kocabıyık was accused of “inciting the public to hatred and animosity” in a video he posted a week ago. Kocabıyık was released after giving his statement at the police department. 


Court blocks access to CHP politician’s Twitter post


Ankara’s 4th Criminal Judgeship of Peace blocked access on 17 August 2020 to a Twitter post shared by Republican People’s Party (CHP) Deputy Chairman Veli Ağbaba about Ali Erbaş, the head of the Directorate of Religious Affairs, on the grounds that the post “violated Erbaş’s personal rights.”


At least 93 journalists and media workers in prison 


Following the arrest of journalist Erkan Akkuş, as of 28 August 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.