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 – 260

Freedom of Expression and the Press in Turkey – 260


Giving precedence to the MİT trucks case, court begins process to seize Can Dündar’s personal assets in Turkey; journalists Canan Coşkun and Can Uğur appear before court; RTÜK imposes administrative fines on 4 TV channels 


Process to seize Can Dündar’s assets launched 


The 14th High Criminal Court of Istanbul ruled to begin the process of seizing the portable and non-portable assets and all bank accounts belonging to Can Dündar, the former editor-in-chief of Cumhuriyet newspaper, at the 9th hearing of the journalist’s re-trial.  


Dündar’s re-trial was initiated after the Supreme Court ovurturned the 5 years and 10 months in prison Dündar was given at end of his trial on the charge of “espionage” for publishing information and photographs on an alleged weapons transfer to Syria on trucks operated by Turkey’s National Intelligence Agency (MİT).


During the hearing closed to spectators, the court ruled that the conditions for Dündar, whose return to Turkey is requested from Germany by the Istanbul Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office, to be considered a “fugitive” as per Code of Criminal Procedure (CMK) Article 247/1 had been fulfilled since “it was discerned that Dündar is in a foreign country to ensure that the trial remains inconclusive.” 


The court ruled to issue a newspaper call for Dündar and ordered for his belongings to be seized if he fails to appear in court within 15 days.


The Constitutional Court rules Enis Berberoğlu’s rights have been violated


The Constitutional Court ruled on 17 September 2020 that former CHP deputy Enis Berberoğlu’s rights had been violated in the “Mit Trucks case” where he was sentenced to 5 years and 10 months in prison. 


Delivering its judgment concerning the indiviual application filed on behalf of Berberoğlu, the Plenary of the Constitutional Court unanimously ruled that Berberoğlu’s right to be elected and engage in politics and his right to personal liberty and security had been violated. To resolve the rights violations, the Constitutional Court ruled to send the file to the Supreme Court for a re-trial. 


Although Berberoğlu was elected as deputy in the general elections in 2018, the sentence he was given in the “MİT trucks case” was upheld by the Supreme Court in 2018. Referring to the sentence, the Grand National Assembly (TBMM) had stripped Berberoğlu of his deputyship. Berberoğlu was arrested on the same day and sent to prison. He was temporarily released on 5 June as part of precautions against Covid-19. 


Sebahat Tuncel charged with “insulting the president”


The final hearing in the trial of Sebahat Tuncel, the former co-chair of the Democratic Regions Party (DBP), on the charge of “insulting the president” for her remarks during a speech she gave in 2016, took place on 17 September 2020 at the 10th Criminal Court of first Instance.


Citing “the way in which the offense was comitted, the place and time of the offense, the extent of the damage that the offense inflicted , the intent of the defendant,” the court ruled to sentence Tuncel to 11 months and 20 months in prison.


Journalist Hayri Demir’s trial postponed until December 


The trial of journalist Hayri Demir on the charges of “terrorist group membership” and “terrorist group propaganda” resumed on 17 September 2020 at the 15th High Criminal Court of Ankara. 


Evidence against Demir include some of his social media posts, articles from his personal website and visuals from a memory card which was stolen from his home on 28 February 2016. The visuals, for which he is accused, are some photographs and footage of interviews he conducted in Syria in 2015.


Accepting the letter of excuse for non-attendance submitted by Demir and his lawyers, the court adjourned the trial until 1 December 2020.


Journalist Arafat Dayan’s trial adjourned


Journalist Arafat Dayan’s trial on the charge of “terrorist group propaganda” that was set for 17 September 2020 at the 2nd High Criminal Court of Istanbul, was postponed to a future after Dayan’s lawyers submitted a letter of excuse. 


Journalists Canan Coşkun and Can Uğur appear before court


The trial of journalists Canan Coşkun, Can Uğur and Ali Açar over their news reports about the investigation into the death of Berkin Elvan, who was killed during the Gezi protests in 2013, got underway at the 34th High Criminal Court of Istanbul on 17 September 2020. 


The journalists are facing the charge of “making those involved in the fight against terrorism a target” in the trial.


Coşkun and Uğur were in attendance in the courtroom with their lawyers. Açar had submitted a letter of excuse for absence. After hearing Coşkun and Uğur’s defense statements, the court adjourned the trial until 10 November 2020 for Açar to give his defense statement.


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

Banu Özdemir appears before court for sharing music broadcasted from mosques in İzmir


The trial where Banu Özdemir, a former executive from main opposition CHP’s Izmir provincial branch, is accused of “inciting the public to hatred and animosity” for sharing footage of the song “Bella Ciao” being broadcasted from several mosques in İzmir, got underway at the İzmir 50th Criminal Court of First Instance on 17 September 2020. 


Özdemir spent a week in custody after she shared the incident which happened on 20 May 2020.


The court ruled to adjourn the trial until 26 November 2020. 


Court sends case file to prosecution in Hrant Dink murder trial


The 110th hearing in the trial of former public officials allegedly involved in the 2017 murder of Hrant Dink, the former editor-in-chief of Agos newspaper, was held on 16 September at the 14th High Criminal Court of Istanbul.


The defendants in the case face the charges of “membership of a terrorist organization,” “intentional murder,” “premeditated murder,” “misconduct,” “forgery by public offical of official document,” and “damaging, destroying or hiding official document.” 


In its interim ruling issued at the hearing, the court ordered the continuation of the detention of the jailed defendants. In view of the stage that the trial had reached, the court rejected the request of Dink family lawyers to hear a witness at the next courtroom hearing. Ruling to send the file to the prosecution for the preparation of the final opinion, the court adjourned the trial until 24-25-26 November 2020.


Prosecutor seeks conviction for İdris Sayılğan


The second hearing in Mezopotamya News Agency (MA) reporter İdris Sayılğan’s trial on the charge of “terrorist propaganda” took place on 16 September 2020 at the 2nd High Criminal Court of Muş. 


Presenting the prosecution’s final opinion during the hearing, the prosecutor requested Sayılğan to be convicted on the charge of “disseminating propaganda through the press.” Accepting Sayılğan’s lawyers’ request for continuance to prepare their defense statements, the court adjourned the trial until 2 December 2020.


RTÜK imposes administrative fines on 4 TV channels


The Radio and Television Supreme Council (RTÜK) imposed administrative fines on Haber Global, Meltem TV, Tele 1 and Fox TV.


Haber Global was given a 3-day broadcast ban for Erol Mütercimler’s remarks about graduates of religious high school (imam hatip) during the program called “Kayıt Altında.”


Meltem TV was fined over Erol Mütercimler’s words on a child abuse case in Sakarya during the program ‘Akıl Oyunu.’


Tele1 was fined over the allegedly discriminating statements Mine Kırıkkanat made at the program “Forum Hafta Sonu.”


Fox TV was given an administrative fine by the broadcasting watchdog due to Selçuk Tepeli’s remarks on primetime news concerning highway and bridge tolls.


Top court finds rights violations in’s application again


The Constitutional Court ruled for the second time 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. Journalist Alican Uludağ announced the decision via social media. Even though the Constitutional Court’s first judgment was published on 2 May in the Official Gazette, the Access ban had remained in place. 


Ahmet Sever’s trial adjourned 


Three separate trials where journalist and writer Ahmet Sever is facing the charges of “insulting the president” and “insulting a public official” over his book “İçimde kalmasın:Tanıklığımdır” took place on 15 September 2020 at the 2nd Criminal Court of First Instance.


P24 monitored the hearing. Sever, who was not in attendance in the courtroom, was represented by his lawyer Oya Aydın. 


Addressing the court during the hearing, Aydın asked the court to wait for the answer to whether or not his client’s statement can be taken through a rogatory court.


Aydın also presented to the court the file containing the decision of non-prosecution in the investigation into Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu’s comments regarding politician Baskın Oran. Aydın said : “The compensation case we filed at the civil court was rejected on the grounds that the statements of Soylu were within the scope of the freedom to criticize. My client’s words are nothing compared to the words expressed in this file. It is unacceptable that he is being prosecuted for a book in which he wrote about what he witnessed while on official duty.


The court accepted President Erdoğan’s request to participate in the trial as an intervening party, considering his possibility of suffering injury as a result of the offense allegedly committed. Ruling to wait for the answer to the query of whether or not Sever’s defense can be taken through a rogatory, the court adjourned the trial until 3 December.


The trial where Sever is accused of “insulting” the President of the Grand National Assembly (TBMM) Mustafa Şentop and the trial in which he is accused of “insulting” Top Presidential Advisor Mustafa Varank, were also adjourned until 3 December.


Hakan Dirik and Erk Acarer’s trial postponed


The trial of Cumhuriyet reporter Hakan Dirik and Birgün reporter Erk Acarer, scheduled to resume on 15 September 2020 at the 2nd Criminal Court of Istanbul was postponed after the letters of excuse submitted by their lawyers were accepted.  Dirik and Acarer stand accused of “libel” for their coverage on the alleged delivery from Turkey to jihadists in Syria of chemicals used for manfucturing sarin gas.


Journalist Mustafa Hoş’s trial adjourned 


Journalist Mustafa Hoş’s trial, on the charge of “insulting the president,” took place on 15 September 2020. The accusation in the case stems from the defense statement he gave in 2016 in his trial on the same charge over his book “Big Boss,” at the end of which he was given a judicial fine of 10.500 TL. The trial was adjourned until 22 October 2020.


Arrest warrant issued against musician Ferhat Tunç


The ninth hearing in the trial of musician Ferhat Tunç on the charge of “insulting the president” over social media posts he shared in 2016 was held on 15 September 2020.


Tunç’s lawyer was in attendance in the courtroom. The official document rejecting the request to take Tunç’s statement through a rogatory by judicial authorities in Germany “on the grounds that the right to freedom of expression is an indispensable and fundamental right in the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Germany” was added to the file.


Announcing its interim decision, the 14th Büyükçekmece Criminal Court of First Instance ruled to issue an arrest warrant against Tunç and adjourned the trial 23 February 2020.


ECtHR finds violation of rights in Ragıp Zarakolu’s case


The European Court of Human Rights ruled that writer, publisher and human rights defender Ragıp Zarakolu’s 5 month pre-trial detention as part of the “KCK İstanbul Main trial,” violated his right to liberty and security and freedom of expression. The top court also ruled that Turkey pays Zarakolu 6.500 euros in non-pecuniary damages. 


Zarakolu, was jailed pending trial on the charge of “membership of a terrorist organization” following his arrest in October 2011 in relation to an investigation initiated by the Istanbul Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office into the political academy seminar organized by the Peace and Democratic Party, a kurdish party existing from 2008 to 2014.


An arrest warrant was issued against Zarakolu in his ongoing trial at the 3rd High Criminal Court of Istanbul on the grounds that “his defense statement could not be taken.”


Trial of former Van TV employees adjourned


The trial of former executives and employees of the shuttured Van TV on the charge of “disseminating terrorist group propaganda” resumed on 15 September 2020.


Accepting the letters of excuse submitted by the defendants’ lawyers, the 4th High Criminal Court of Van adjourned the trial for the completion of the case file.


Court refuses to acquit Gezi trial defendants whose files have been separated


The first hearing in the trial of the Gezi trial defendants whose files were separated, actors Memet Ali Alabora and Pınar Öğün, journalist Can Dündar, Open Society Foundation employee Gökçe Yılmaz, writer Handan Meltem Arıkan, Civil Society Development Center (STGM) coordinator Hanzade Hikmet Germiyanoğlu and ngo employee İnanç Ekmekçi, was held on 15 September 2020 at the 30th High Criminal Court of Istanbul.


The prosecutor requested the arrest warrants issued against the defendants to be executed. Rejecting the lawyers’ requests for the defense statements to be given through a rogatory and the immediate acquittal of their clients, the court adjourned the trial until 14 January 2020. 


At least 85 journalists and media workers in prison


As of 18 September 2020, at least 85 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.