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 - 271

Freedom of Expression and the Press in Turkey - 271

Journalists Velat Öztekin, Dicle Müftüoğlu sentenced on “propaganda” charge; Alican Uludağ’s trial over Twitter post about prosecutor begins; regional court upholds convictions in “Büyükada trial”


Retrial of Can Dündar in “MİT Trucks case” adjourned


The 12th hearing in Cumhuriyet newspaper’s former Editor-in-Chief Can Dündar’s retrial in the "MİT trucks case" resumed on 4 December 2020 at the Istanbul 14th High Criminal Court.


The hearing was closed to the public. Dündar's lawyers asked the court’s judges to recuse themselves from the case. The court panel rejected the request and adjourned the trial until 23 December for Dündar's lawyers to appeal the decision with the next court of first instance.


Council of Europe strongly urges Turkey to release Osman Kavala


The Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe has adopted an Interim Resolution strongly urging Turkey to ensure the immediate release of jailed businessman and human rights defender Osman Kavala and to ensure that the Constitutional Court completes its examination of his complaint without further delay.


The Interim Resolution was adopted during the committee’s latest regular meeting to examine the implementation of judgments from the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR), held from 1-3 December 2020 in Strasbourg.


The Committee of Ministers decided to resume its examination of the case at the latest at its next meeting, which will take place in March 2021.


A report about the interim resolution can be accessed here.


Journalist Kesire Önel released after 6 days in custody


Journalist Kesire Önel, who was arrested on 26 November 2020 as part of a police operation in Istanbul along with at least 17 other people including Cihan Yavuz, the deputy mayor of the Şişli district, was brought to the Istanbul Courthouse on 2 December 2020. Önel, who was arrested on the allegation of “membership of a terrorist organization,” and 10 others were released by a judgeship under judicial control measures while Yavuz and six others were jailed pending trial on the charge of “membership of a terrorist organization.”


Top court rejects HDP lawmaker Garo Paylan’s application


The Constitutional Court has rejected HDP lawmaker Garo Paylan’s individual application in which he claimed that a disciplinary penalty he was given by the Parliament for using the term “Armenian genocide” during a 13 January 2017 speech at the General Assembly violated his freedom of expression and his right to engage in political activity.


The top court held that Paylan’s application, lodged with the court on 5 April 2017, was “inadmissible” because it was “not filed within the designated period.” The court also held that the Constitutional Court was “not an ordinary legal remedy to be taken against a decision by the Parliament.”


President Erdoğan files new lawsuit against CHP’s Kılıçdaroğlu


President and Justice and Development Party (AKP) Chairman Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has filed a new compensation case against main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) Chairman Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu over his remarks during the CHP’s 1 December 2020 Parliamentary group meeting. Erdoğan is seeking TL 500,0000 in non-pecuniary damages in the lawsuit. 


Erdoğan’s lawyer Hüseyin Aydın demanded in his petition submitted to an Ankara Civil Court that the court rule for a “deterring compensation.”


Columnist Nagehan Alçı’s trial adjourned 


The first hearing of HaberTürk columnist Nagehan Alçı’s trial on the charge of "defamation by means of an oral, written or visual message” (Turkish Penal Code 125/2) for her article titled “O Utanç Verici Karara Adalet Bakanı’nın Tepkisi” (Justice Minister’s reaction to that disgraceful judgment) was held on 3 December 2020 at the Istanbul 2nd Criminal Court of First Instance.


The case was launched over a complaint filed by judge Hakkı Yalçınkaya. The court decided to rule on Yalçınkaya’s participation in the proceedings after hearing Alçı’s statement and adjourned the trial until 11 February 2021.


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


Trial of former Özgür Gündem editors Aykol and Çapan adjourned


The 18th hearing of a trial where former Özgür Gündem Editor-in-Chief Hüseyin Aykol and responsible editor Reyhan Çapan and columnists of the newspaper are accused of “praising crime or a criminal,” “terrorism propaganda” and “openly inciting to committing crimes” over articles published in the newspaper in March 2016 was scheduled to be held this week at the Istanbul 13th High Criminal Court. Accepting defense lawyers’ letters of excuse, the court adjourned the trial until a later date.


Trials of Ahmet Sever adjourned until March


Three separate trials where journalist and writer Ahmet Sever is charged with “insulting the president” and “insulting a public official” over his book İçimde Kalmasın: Tanıklığımdır were scheduled to resume on 3 December 2020 at the 2nd Criminal Court of First Instance. Accepting a letter of excuse submitted by Sever’s lawyer, the court postponed all three cases until 23 March 2021.


Constitutional Court rejects application against Ahmet Altan's re-arrest


The Second Section of the Constitutional Court rejected the second application filed on behalf of jailed novelist and journalist Ahmet Altan over his re-arrest only eight days after his release in November 2019.


In its unanimous judgment dated 21 October 2020, the Court rejected the claims that Altan’s unlawful re-arrest and the lack of impartiality of the courts that ruled for his re-arrest and that ruled on the objections to his re-arrest violated his right to liberty and security.


A report about the reasoned judgment in writing issued on the court’s official website on 2 December 2020 can be accessed here.


Stand-up comedian Pınar Fidan faces indictment over joke


Stand-up comedian Pınar Fidan and Özgür Tosun, who appeared in a video showing a segment from Fidan’s show, are charged with “publicly degrading a segment of the society over social class, religion, sect, gender or regional differences” in a new indictment. The accusation stems from a joke Fidan told about the Alevi community during her stand-up show called “Tuz-Biber” (Salt-Pepper) on 19 March 2020.


Alican Uludağ’s trial over Twitter post about prosecutor begins


The first hearing of journalist Alican Uludağ’s trial on the charge of “making those involved in combatting terrorism a target” (TMK 6/1) over a Twitter post in which he criticized former Ankara Chief Public Prosecutor Yüksel Kocaman was held on 2 December 2020 at the Ankara 18th High Criminal Court.


Submitting his final opinion, the prosecutor demanded Uludağ’s conviction. Uludağ’s lawyer requested time to prepare a defense statement against the final opinion. The court lifted the signature obligation for Uludağ but ruled for the continuation of his travel ban and adjourned the trial until 3 February 2021.


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


Evrensel columnist Ender İmrek acquitted in “insult” case


The third hearing of Evrensel columnist Ender İmrek’s trial on the charge of “publicly insulting” First Lady Emine Erdoğan in a June 2019 newspaper article was held on 2 December 2020 at the Bakırköy 2nd Criminal Court of First Instance.


P24 monitored the hearing, where İmrek and his lawyer were in attendance. Issuing its judgment at the end of the hearing, the court ruled for İmrek’s acquittal. The columnist was accused because of an article in which he commented on an expensive handbag owned by Emine Erdoğan.


Musician Ferhat Tunç’s trial adjourned until March 


The eighth hearing of a trial where self-exiled musician Ferhat Tunç is charged with “inciting hatred and hostility” over his social media posts was held on 2 December 2020 at the Büyükçekmece 4th Criminal Court of First Instance.


The prosecution asked the court to wait for the execution of the arrest warrant issued for Tunç. Ruling to wait for the execution of the arrest warrant, the court adjourned the trial until 3 March 2021.


Journalist İdris Sayılğan’s trial adjourned until February


The third hearing in Mezopotamya news agency (MA) reporter İdris Sayılğan’s trial on the charge of “repeatedly making terrorism propaganda” took place on 2 December 2020 at the Muş 2nd High Criminal Court. Since the court panel was on leave due to Covid-19 quarantine, the temporary panel who oversaw the hearing adjourned the trial until 1 February 2021.


Taylan Kulaçoğlu released at his second hearing


The second hearing of the trial of Taylan Kulaçoğlu, who was arrested in May because of his social media posts, took place on 2 December 2020 at the Balıkesir 3rd High Criminal Court. Issuing an interim ruling after hearing Kulaçoğlu’s defense statement, the court ordered Kulaçoğlu’s release under judicial control measures. The court set 24 March 2021 as the date for the next hearing.


Journalist Dicle Müftüoğlu sentenced at her first hearing


Mezopotamya news agency (MA) editor Dicle Müftüoğlu appeared before the Diyarbakır 11th High Criminal Court on 2 December 2020 for the first hearign of her trial on the charge of “terrorism propaganda.”


Submitting their final opinion during the hearing, the prosecution asked the court to convict Müftüoğlu as charged. Ruling in line with the prosector’s final opinion, the court handed down the journalist a prison sentence of 1 year and 3 months for “terrorism propaganda.” The sentence was deferred. Müftüoğlu was on trial for sharing on her personal social media account a news photo taken in 2014 that showed clashes in Kobani.


Journalist Hayri Demir’s trial to resume in March


A trial where journalist Hayri Demir is charged with “membership of a terrorist organization” and “terrorism propaganda” over photos stored in his memory cards resumed on 1 December 2020 at the Ankara 15th High Criminal Court.


The memory cards held as evidence against the journalist were stolen from his apartment in a suspicious theft in 2017 and were then handed over to the police department.


The court decided to wait for the completion of the police investigation on whether the visual material stored in the cards was actually used in news reports and adjourned the trial until 25 March 2021.


“KCK Press trial” adjourned until March


The 20th hearing of the long-running “KCK Press trial” against 46 journalists and media workers took place on 1 December 2020 at the Istanbul 3rd High Criminal Court. None of the journalists on trial were in attendance. They were represented by their lawyers.


Çağdaş Ulus’s lawyer asked the court to separate the file against his client and rule for Ulus’s acquittal. Lawyer Özcan Kılıç asked the court to exempt his client Yüksel Genç from personally appearing in court. Rejecting the request of Çağdaş Ulus's lawyer, the court ruled to grant Yüksel Genç exemption from attending hearings and adjourned the trial until 4 March 2021.


80-year-old actress appears in court for “insulting Erdoğan”


Screen actress Nilüfer Aydan appeared before the Anadolu 37th Criminal Court of First Instance on 1 December 2020 for the first hearing of her trial on the charge of “insulting the president.” The 80-year-old actress is accused over her Facebook posts from 2016, 2017 and 2018. Accepting Aydan’s request to make her defense statement in the presence of a lawyer to be appointed by the bar association, the court adjourned the trial until a later date.


Journalist Velat Öztekin sentenced for “terrorism propaganda”


Journalist Velat Öztekin, a former staff member of the shıuttered Kurdish language daily Azadiya Welat, was sentenced to 1 year, 6 months and 22 days in prison at the third hearing of his trial held on 30 November 2020 at the Diyarbakır 9th High Criminal Court.


Öztekin’s sentence was deferred. the journalist was charged with “terrorism propaganda” over social media posts he had shared in 2015 and 2016.


Regional court upholds convictions in “Büyükada trial”


The 3rd Criminal Chamber of the Istanbul Regional Court of Justice upheld the convictions of human rights defenders Taner Kılıç, Günal Kurşun, İdil Eser and Özlem Dalkıran on terror charges in the “Büyükada trial,” finding the lower court’s judgment lawful.


At the final hearing of the “Büyükada trial” held on 3 July 2020, Amnesty Turkey’s Honorary Chair Kılıç was sentenced to 6 years and 3 months in prison for “membership of a terrorist organization” while his co-defendants Dalkıran, Eser and Kurşun were each sentenced to 1 year and 13 months for “aiding a terrorist organization without being its member.”


In its unanimous ruling dated 26 November 2020, the regional court also rejected the appeal by the prosecutor against the acquittals of Nejat Taştan and Veli Acu.


A report about the appellate court’s judgment can be found here.


At least 87 journalists and media workers in prison 


As of 4 December 2020, at least 87 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.