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 - 275

Freedom of Expression and the Press in Turkey - 275

Top Court rejects Osman Kavala’s second application; journalist Mazlum Dolan sentenced to 7.5 years in prison; RTÜK exclusively fined opposition TVs in 2020



Journalist Oktay Candemir acquitted


The final hearing in the trial of journalist Oktay Candemir on charges of “violating the Law on Assemblies and Demonstrations” and “resisting police to prevent the performance of their duty” was held on 31 December 2020 at the Van 5th Criminal Court of First Instance.


Submitting their final opinion during the hearing, the prosecution demanded the acquittal of the defendants. Ruling in line with the prosecutor’s final opinion, the court acquitted all defendants. The case was launched upon a complaint by police officers who arrested Candemir and his co-defendants during a demonstration held in Van on 6 May 2019.


Poet Yılmaz Odabaşı sent to prison


Poet Yılmaz Odabaşı was arrested and sent to prison on 30 December 2020. Announcing his arrest on his Twitter account, Odabaşı said he was arrested during procedures at a notary office and was being taken to the courthouse. In his next Twitter post, Odabaşı wrote that he was being taken to the Kandıra Prison. No statement has been made on the grounds for Odabaşı’s imprisonment.


Journalist Mehmet Çakmakçı acquitted


The ninth hearing in journalist Mehmet Çakmakçı’s trial on the charge of “membership of a terrorist organization” was held on 30 December 2020 at the Diyarbakır 10th High Criminal Court. Issuing its judgment at the end of the hearing, the court ruled for Çakmakçı’s acquittal.


Journalist Buse Söğütlü’s trial adjourned until March


Journalist Buse Söğütlü, a reporter for the news portal Gazete Yolculuk, appeared before the Istanbul 23rd High Criminal Court on 30 December 2020 for the second hearing of her trial on the charge of “making officials involved in the fight against terrorism a target” over a news report she had shared on Twitter.


Issuing an interim ruling after hearing Söğütlü’s defense statement, the court decided to inquire of the National Intelligence Agency (MİT) and the Police Department about whether the journalist “has ties with a terrorist organization” and adjourned the trial until 24 March 2021.


Constitutional Court rejects Osman Kavala’s 2nd application


The Constitutional Court’s Plenary issued its judgment concerning jailed businessperson and civil society leader Osman Kavala’s application against his ongoing detention on 29 December 2020, finding “no violation” of the right to liberty and security. The Plenary ruled by a majority of eight votes to seven.


The application was filed earlier this year after Kavala was re-arrested on “coup” charges immediately following his acquittal and release in February in the Gezi Park trial.


For further information, see this report.


Journalist Mazlum Dolan sentenced to 7.5 years in prison


Mazlum Dolan, a former reporter for the now-defunct Dicle News Agency (DİHA), was sentenced to 7 years and 6 months in prison on the charge of “membership of a terrorist organization” at the final hearing of his trial in absentia. The trial was held on 29 December 2020 at the Diyarbakır 5th High Criminal Court.

Germany rejects Turkey’s request to take Ferhat Tunç’s statement


Exiled musician Ferhat Tunç’s trial on the charge of “terrorism propaganda” over his social media posts resumed on 29 December 2020 at the Istanbul 37th High Criminal Court.


Tunç’s lawyer was in attendance in the courtroom. An official document rejecting the request to take Tunç’s statement through a rogatory by judicial authorities in Germany was submitted to the file. The document submitted by the Turkish Consulate General in Frankfurt to the Justice Ministry said that the request had been rejected by the Darmstadt Public Prosecutor's Office.


Ruling to wait for the execution of the arrest warrant for Tunç, the court adjourned the trial until 6 April 2021.


Jin News reporter Gülistan Azak released


Gülistan Azak, a reporter for the female news agency Jin News, was arrested on 25 December 2020 in Tunceli as part of an ongoing investigation against her. Azak was taken to the Tunceli Courthouse on 26 December. There, she appeared before the Tunceli 2nd High Criminal Court, which released the journalist.


RTÜK exclusively fined opposition TV channels in 2020


The Radio and Television Supreme Council (RTÜK) exclusively fined opposition TV channels in 2020, according to a recent report issued by RTÜK member İlhan Taşçı.


According to Taşçı’s report, in 2020 the Council received a total of 102,500 complaints about the pro-government ATV, which marked the highest number of complaints it received this year about a single channel. Despite the high number of complaints, RTÜK fined ATV only once, imposing on the channel an administrative fine of TL 400,000, whereas opposition TV channels were imposed a combined penalty of TL 10 million during the same period.


The report said complaints RTÜK received in 2020 about other pro-government channels A Haber, Kanal 7, TV Net, TGRT Haber were not even processed while the Council imposed 19 penalties on Tele 1 TV, 15 penalties on Halk TV, three administrative fines on KRT, and nine administrative fines on FOX TV.


At least 87 journalists and media workers to mark New Year’s Eve in prison


As of 31 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.