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 - 280

Freedom of Expression and the Press in Turkey - 280

"Coup" case against Osman Kavala merged with Gezi trial; journalists İdris Sayılğan, Alican Uludağ sentenced; journalist Berat Gonca sent to prison; prosecutor seeks conviction for Müyesser Yıldız and İsmail Dükel



"Coup" case against Osman Kavala merged with Gezi Park trial


The second hearing in jailed businessperson Osman Kavala’s trial on “coup” and “espionage” charges was held on 5 February 2021 at the 36th High Criminal Court of Istanbul.


Kavala, jailed pending trial since November 2017, addressed the court from the Silivri Prison via the judicial video-conferencing network SEGBİS.


In their final opinion, the prosecutor demanded the continuation of Kavala’s pre-trial detention and that the file be merged with the “Gezi Park trial,” recently remanded to the 30th High Criminal Court of Istanbul. The court decided to merge the case with the Gezi Park trial and ordered the continuation of Osman Kavala’s detention.


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


Prosecutor seeks conviction for Müyesser Yıldız and İsmail Dükel


The third hearing in the trial of Odatv news portal Ankara News Director Müyesser Yıldız and TELE1 TV Ankara Representative İsmail Dükel over their phone calls with their news source Erdal Baran, a non-commissioned officer, was held on 5 February 2021 at Ankara 26th High Criminal Court.


Arguing that Dükel and Yıldız had “crossed the boundaries of journalism,” the prosecutor asked the court to convict Yıldız, Dükel and Baran for “systematically obtaining and disclosing information that must be kept confidential for reasons relating to the security or the interests of the state” under articles 327 and 329 of the Turkish Penal Code (TCK).


Issuing an interim ruling, the court granted the defendants time to prepare their final defense statements and set 8 March 2021 as the date for the next hearing.


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


Ahmet Şık faces investigation over remarks on Boğaziçi protests


An investigation was launched by the Ankara Chief Public Prosecutor's Office against independent lawmaker Ahmet Şık with the allegation of "inciting to commit crimes" under Article 214 of the Turkish Penal Code (TCK). In a written statement, the Prosecutor’s Office said the allegation stemmed from

Şık’s public remarks in support of Boğaziçi University protests, featured on social media and on several news portals.


KRT TV host Osman Güdü assaulted


Osman Güdü, who hosts a show titled “Kent ve Yaşam” on KRT TV, was assaulted by unidentified attackers on the evening of 4 February 2021 as he was leaving his office in Kartal, Istanbul. Media reported that Güdü might be targeted because he had mentioned allegations that certain religious cults were active in Bayburt province in a recent episode of his show.


Two journalists covering protests in Kadıköy taken into custody


Taylan Öztaş, a reporter for Özgür Gelecek newspaper, and Mezopotamya news agency reporter Rojin Altay were taken into custody on 4 February 2021 during police intervention on a group of activists who wanted to make a public statement in Kadıköu, Istanbul, to announce the establishment of a platform called “Birleşik Mücadele Güçleri.” At least 65 people, including members and executives of the Socialist Party of the Oppressed (ESP), were detained during the intervention, Mezopotamya reported.


Altay, who was brought to the Anadolu Courthouse on 5 February, was released after giving her statement to the prosecutor.


Journalists covering Boğaziçi protests targeted by police


At least five journalists were targeted by police while covering police intervention on university students gathering in Kadıköy, Istanbul, on 2 February 2021 to stage a protest against the Boğaziçi University's new rector appointed by President Erdoğan and the recent arrest of two Boğaziçi students over an artwork in an exhibition on the school campus. Police fired tear gas and plastic bullets on protesters and journalists covering the intervention.


Halk TV correspondent Erdinç Yılmaz, cameraman Murat Erkmen and documentary director and video activist Kazım Kızıl were hit by plastic bullets while news portal reporter Murat Bay was punched by a policeman as he was trying to capture photos of an arrest. Police also tried to detain journalist Elif Akgül, a board member of DİSK Basın-İş, the journalists union under the Confederation of Progressive Trade Unions of Turkey (DİSK), and another reporter for Cumhuriyet newspaper’s online edition.


Journalist Berat Gonca sent to prison


Berat Gonca, a columnist for a local newspaper in Samsun, was sent to prison on 4 February 2021 to serve a prison sentence of 2 years and 6 months he was given last year over his articles on allegations that “FETÖ”-related accusations were being “dropped by public prosecutors in exchange for a certain amount of payment.” Gonca surrendered to Samsun T Type Prison.


The court that sentenced Gonca to 2.5 years for “libel via the press” in 2020 decided to send Gonca's conviction to Samsun 2nd High Criminal Court, where he previously received a suspended sentence in another trial, and that the journalist serve both sentences.


Journalist Akoğul’s trial postponed


A trial where Ramazan Akoğul, a former reporter for the now-defunct Dicle news agency (DİHA), is charged with "membership in a terrorist organization" over his reports, continued on 4 February 2021 the 4th High Criminal Court of Diyarbakır.


Akoğul did not attend the hearing. His lawyer, Resul Tamur, presented to the court his client’s press card, stating that Akoğul is a journalist. Ruling to wait for the response from the Dicle Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office regarding the investigation against Akoğul, the court adjourned the trial until 25 May.


Jailed journalist İbrahim Karakaş faces “terror” charge in new indictment


İbrahim Karakaş, an employee of Yeni Yaşam newspaper, who has been in jail since November 2020, is charged with “membership in a terrorist organization” in a new indictment issued by the Adana Chief Public Prosecutor's Office. Adana 11th High Criminal Court decided to hold the first hearing on 23 March.


Karakaş’s phone conversations with his family and fellow journalists, his social media posts and the content of the hard disks seized during the search in his home are cited as evidence in the indictment. Based on statements by a confessor, the indictment claims that Karakaş is KCK executive Duran Kalkan’s "radio operator" and "press guy.”


Retrial of Fincancı, Önderoğlu and Nesin gets underway


The retrial of Reporters Without Borders (RSF) Turkey representative Erol Önderoğlu, Turkish Medical Association (TTB) Central Committee President Şebnem Korur-Fincancı and journalist-writer Ahmet Nesin, whose acquittals in 2019’s “Özgür Gündem solidarity trial” was overturned by an appellate court, began on 3 February 2021 at the 13th High Criminal Court of Istanbul.


The court decided to comply with the appellate court’s reversal decision. The panel decided to issue a summons for Özgür Gündem former Responsible Editor İnan Kızılkaya to testify as a witness. Also ruling to seek the Istanbul 23rd High Criminal Court’s permission to merge the case with the “Özgür Gündem Main Trial,” the court set 6 May 2021 as the date for the next hearing.


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


Journalist Alican Uludağ given 10-month suspended sentence


Journalist Alican Uludağ was given a 10-month prison sentence on 3 February 2021 on the charge of “marking a state official involved in the fight against terrorism as a target” for criticizing former Ankara Chief Public Prosecutor Yüksel Kocaman and his wife’s visit to President Erdoğan last year at the Presidential Complex.


This was the second hearing in the trial, overseen by the Ankara 18th High Criminal Court.


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


Compensation case against Ceren Sözeri postponed


The second hearing of a lawsuit filed by Turkuvaz Media Group against academic and Evrensel columnist Ceren Sözeri, seeking TL 200,000 in compensation for an April 2019 article by Sözeri, was held on 3 February 2021.


The 2nd Commercial Court of Istanbul decided to notify the heirs of Cemal Dursun, the late publisher of Evrensel newspaper, of the case and adjourned the case until 14 July 2021.


Journalist Hayko Bağdat's hearing adjourned


The fourth hearing of journalist Hayko Bağdat’s trial on the charge of "insulting the president” was scheduled for 3 February 2021 at Istanbul 50th Criminal Court of First Instance. Accepting letters of excuse submitted by Bağdat’s lawyers, the court postponed the trial until a later date. An arrest warrant issued for Bağdat as part of this case was revoked at the previous hearing, when the court agreed to take his statement abroad.


Hülya Oruç acquitted at her second hearing


Hülya Oruç, the wife of journalist Aziz Oruç, was acquitted of "inciting the public to hatred and enmity" in a case where she was accused over her social media posts. The second hearing of the case was held on 3 February 2021 at Diyarbakır 5th Criminal Court of First Instance. The court ruled in line with the prosecutor’s opinion that the crime elements did not occur and acquitted Oruç.


MA Managing Editor Ferhat Çelik acquitted at first hearing


Mezopotamya news agency (MA) Responsible Editor Ferhat Çelik was acquitted of “fabricating an offense” charge at the first hearing of his trial, held on 2 February 2021 at Bayburt Criminal Court of First Instance.


Çelik addressed the court via SEGBİS from the Istanbul 22nd Criminal Court of First Instance. Presenting his opinion, the prosecutor demanded acquittal, stating that MA’s report was within the scope of freedom of the press. Ruling in line with the prosecutor’s opinion, the court acquitted the journalist.


Çelik was accused over a 2018 report dispatched by the agency, on contaminated food served to inmates in Bayburt Prison.


Jailed journalist Mehmet Aslan charged with “membership in a terrorist group”


MA reporter Mehmet Aslan, who has been jailed since 8 January, is charged with “membership in a terrorist organization” in a new indictment issued by the Antalya Chief Public Prosecutor's Office. The indictment, initially submitted to Antalya 2nd High Criminal Court, has been transferred to Istanbul upon the Antalya court's decision of non-jurisdiction.


Journalist Banu Güven acquitted at first hearing


The first hearing of a trial against journalist Banu Güven on the charge of "praising an offense or an offender” over a social media post was held on 2 February 2021. The Istanbul 41st Criminal Court of First Instance acquitted Güven at the first hearing.


MA reporter İdris Sayılğan handed down 4-year sentence


İdris Sayılğan, a reporter for Mezopotamya news agency, was sentenced to 4 years in prison for “systematically disseminating propaganda for a terrorist organization” for his social media posts. The final hearing of Sayılğan’s trial was held on 1 February 2021 at the 2nd High Criminal Court of Muş.


At least 83 journalists and media workers in prison


P24 has updated its List of journalists and media workers in prison, compiled using information available in open sources, upon the imprisonment of journalist Berat Gonca this week and upon recently discovering that former TRT employee Hasan Hüseyin Örs was released from prison.


Accordingly, as of 5 February 2021, at least 83 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.