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 - 269

Freedom of Expression and the Press in Turkey - 269

JinNews Kurdish editor Roza Metina arrested; 5 journalists to stand trial for covering 2019 demonstration in Mardin; BirGün journalists acquitted of “insulting public official”



JinNews editor Roza Metina arrested in Diyarbakır


JinNews Kurdish editor and Kurd-Pen executive Roza Metina was arrested on 20 November 2020 in a police raid on her home in Diyarbakır. Metina, who was taken to the Diyarbakır Police Department, was arrested as part of an investigation against the Democratic Society Congress (DTK). News reports said lawyers and civil society representatives were among 101 individuals facing arrest warrants as part of the investigation. At least 72 people were arrested across several provinces on Friday as part of the investigation. Twenty-one lawyers who were arrested as part of the operation were released later on 20 November after giving their statements at the police department.


Access to JinNews blocked once again


Access to the website of the news agency JinNews was blocked on 20 November 2020 by a decision of the Diyarbakır 5th Criminal Judgeship of Peace. The latest ruling marked the third access ban order for Jin News in the past 30 days.


Mahmut Alınak stands trial for “insulting the president”


Kurdish politician and author Mahmut Alınak is charged with “insulting the president” in a new trial where the accusation stems from his book “Mehmet Tunç ve Bêkes.” Alınak went to the Kars Courthouse on 20 November 2020 to give his statement via SEGBİS to a criminal court of first instance in Istanbul overseeing his trial.


Alınak was arrested on 8 October on the charge of “insulting the president” and released the same day after giving his statement to a prosecutor. 


Journalist Ali Ergin Demirhan’s trial adjourned editor Ali Ergin Demirhan’s trial on the charges of “insulting the president” and “terrorism propaganda” was scheduled to resume on 19 November 2020 at the Istanbul 24th High Criminal Court. The trial was postponed until a later date because the court panel was on leave due to Covid-19.


Journalist Özgür Boğatekin’s retrial adjourned until December


The third hearing in the retrial of Adıyaman-based journalist Özgür Boğatekin on the charge of “terrorism propaganda” took place on 19 November 2020 at the Adıyaman 2nd High Criminal Court.


The retrial was ordered by the 4th Criminal Chamber of the Gaziantep Regional Court of Justice. The trial court decided to wait for a separate file against Boğatekin to be sent by the Tunceli 1st High Criminal Court and set 22 December 2020 as the date for the next hearing.


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


BirGün editors acquitted of “insulting public official” 


The trial of BirGün daily editors Uğur Koç and Mustafa Kömüş and the newspaper’s publisher İbrahim Aydın on the charge of “insulting a public official” resumed on 19 November 2020 at Istanbul’s 2nd Criminal Court of First Instance.


The accusation stemmed from a 21 June 2019 report published on BirGün’s online edition, about entries on former Treasury and Finance Minister Berat Albayrak that were removed from the online forum Ekşi Sözlük.


Submitting their final opinion, the prosecutor asked the court to acquit the journalists for lack of incriminating evidence. Ruling in accordance with the prosecutor’s final opinion, the court acquitted all three journalists.


Yeniçağ columnist Murat Ağırel faces new investigation


Yeniçağ newspaper columnist Murat Ağırel is facing a new investigation over an article he wrote in May 2019. The investigation was launched upon a complaint by the pro-government Yeni Şafak daily’s Editor-in-Chief İbrahim Karagül. Ağırel faces the allegation of “unfair competition through defamation” in the investigation.


In June, Ağırel was acquitted by the Istanbul 40th Criminal Court of First Instance in an “insult” case filed over the same article. The case was launched upon a complaint by Nuri Albayrak, the owner of Yeni Şafak.


Author Faik Bulut appears in court on “terror” charge


Author and journalist Faik Bulut’s trial on the charge of “establishing and managing a terrorist organization” over his involvement in the Democratic Society Congress (DTK) began on 19 November 2020 at the Diyarbakır 4th High Criminal Court.


Bulut addressed the court via the judicial videoconferencing network SEGBİS. Presenting their final opinion during the hearing, the prosecutor asked the court to convict Bulut of “membership of a terrorist organization.” Granting Bulut and his lawyers additional time for their defense statement in response to the accusation, the court adjourned the trial until 28 January 2021.


Five journalists to stand trial for covering demonstration in Mardin


Mezopotamya news agency (MA) reporters Ahmet Kanbal and Mehmet Şah Oruç, JinNews reporter Rojda Aydın and journalists Nurcan Yalçın and Halime Parlak are charged with “Participating in unlawful public demonstrations and refusing to obey warnings by security forces to disperse” in a new indictment. The indictment was recently accepted by the Mardin 1st Criminal Court of First Instance.


The journalists were arrested in Mardin on 20 August 2019 as they were covering demonstrations in protest of the government’s removal of the city’s mayor. All five were released six day later.


Journalist Uğur Güç acquitted in “insult” case


Journalist Uğur Güç, the Istanbul representative of the Progressive Journalists Association (ÇGD) and the responsible editor of the website Sol Haber Portalı, was acquitted of “insulting a public official” at the final hearing of his trial on 17 November 2020. Güç was accused of “insulting” President Erdoğan’s lawyer in a news report published in July 2019. 


Journalist Oktay Candemir’s trial adjourned until December


Journalist Oktay Candemir and four other defendants appeared before the Van 5th Criminal Court of First Instance on 17 November 2020 for their trial on charges of “violating the Law on Assemblies and Demonstrations” and “resisting police to prevent the performance of their duty.” The trial was launched upon a complaint by police officers who arrested Candemir and his four co-defendants during a demonstration held in Van on 6 May 2019.


The complainants did not attend the hearing. Candemir and his co-defendants submitted to court medical reports confirming the police brutality they faced during their arrest and demanded to be acquitted. The next hearing of the trial will be held on 31 December 2020.


Cumhuriyet newspaper given 28-day public ad ban


Cumhuriyet newspaper’s appeal against a 45-day ban on running government ads, imposed by the Press Advertising Agency (BİK), has been rejected by the Istanbul 3rd Civil Court, partially finalizing the penalty. Based on the court's decision, a 28-day portion of the ban began to be implemented on 16 November 2020.


About 15 news reports published in the newspaper and on its online edition about Presidential Communications Director Fahrettin Altun were cited as the grounds for the penalty, which comprised a 37-day ban for the print edition and an additional eight-day ban for the online edition.


Prosecutor seeks conviction for journalist Ayten Akgün


Journalist Ayten Akgün appeared before the Anadolu 6th Criminal Court of First Instance on 10 November 2020 for her trial on the charge of “insulting the president.” Akgün is on trial for sharing a news report titled “Halfeti'de işkence” (torture in Halfeti) on Twitter. Presenting their final opinion, the prosecutor asked the court to convict Akgün as charged. The next hearing of the trial is set for 7 January 2021.


At least 86 journalists and media workers in prison 


As of 20 November 2020 at least 86 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.