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 - 294

Freedom of Expression and the Press in Turkey - 294

Journalist Deniz Yücel charged with Article 301 in new trial; Baransel Ağca faces investigation; activist Taylan Kulaçoğlu jailed; journalist-filmmaker Ruhi Karadağ sentenced for “propaganda”


Activist Taylan Kulaçoğlu jailed pending trial


Activist Taylan Kulaçoğlu was taken into custody on 11 May 2021 at the Istanbul Police Department, where he was called in to give his signature. Kulaçoğlu was detained over a social media post.


After spending the night in police custody, Kulaçoğlu was brought to the Anadolu Courthouse on 12 May to give his statement to the prosecutor, who referred him to a court, seeking his imprisonment pending trial. Kulaçoğlu’s lawyer Tamer Doğan told P24 as they were waiting to appear before a criminal judgeship of peace that his client was accused of “insulting the president” under Article 299 of the Turkish Penal Code (TCK) over a social media post attributed to him. Kulaçoğlu, who asserted that the post was not his, was subsequently jailed pending trial by the judgeship.


Kulaçoğlu was jailed pending trial in May 2020 on the charges of “terrorism propaganda” and “membership in a terrorist organization.” The accusations stemmed from posts shared by the social media account “İsimsizler Hareketi” (the nameless movement). Kulaçoğlu, who was released pending trial in December 2020, is on trial alongside journalist Hakan Gülseven in that case, which is set to resume on 23 June at the Balıkesir 3rd High Criminal Court.


Journalist Deniz Yücel charged with Article 301


Turkish-German journalist Deniz Yücel, the former Turkish representative of the German newspaper Die Welt, is charged with “publicly degrading the Turkish nation and the State of the Republic of Turkey” under TCK 301/1 in a new indictment where the accusation is based on two of his articles published in 2016.


The Istanbul Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office is seeking a prison sentence of up to 2 years for Yücel in the indictment, issued on 8 April 2021. Yücel is accused over a joke on the discrimination against Kurds in his article published on 26 October 2016 and the expression “Armenian genocide” in his article dated 27 October 2016.


The first hearing of Yücel’s trial will be held on 1 July 2021, the Istanbul 2nd Criminal Court of First Instance ruled on 14 April. The court also decided to issue a letter rogatory for Yücel’s statement to be taken in Germany.


Yücel was arrested in February 2017 on charges of “making propaganda for a terrorist organization” and “inciting hatred and enmity.” After remaining behind bars for one year in the Silivri Prison, Yücel was released pending trial on 16 February 2018 by the Istanbul 32nd High Criminal Court, which accepted the indictment against Yücel. At the final hearing of his trial in absentia on 16 July 2020, the court sentenced Yücel to 2 years, 9 months and 22 days in prison for “terrorism propaganda” and also ruled to file charges against him under TCK 301.


Interior Minister targets Cumhuriyet newspaper over Sedat Peker coverage


Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu targeted Cumhuriyet newspaper this week over their coverage on the allegations in the videos posted online by mafia boss Sedat Peker.


In a post shared on his Twitter account, Soylu wrote: “The Cumhuriyet newspaper, which slammed the most glorious Commander of our fight against terrorism through the delusions of a mafia scum, who took revenge on behalf of its partner HDPKK, your past is full of deep, dirty and dark relationships. Turkey is not the old Turkey. You will pay for this before the law.”


Journalist Hüseyin Arif Çakmak threatened by gun-wielding man


An armed man attempted to attack İstiklal newspaper Editor-in-Chief Hüseyin Arif Çakmak on 11 May 2021.


The armed man, Turgay Türker, came to the newspaper’s office in Istanbul’s Zeytinburnu district and asked Çakmak to give him TL 2 million. The attacker threatened to kill the journalist if he failed to give him the money. Police teams who arrived at the scene arrested the attacker and seized his guns and ammunition. The attacker, who was taken to the courthouse, was released by court.


Reportedly, three days before the attack, Türker attempted to seize a factory and vehicles owned by Çakmak in Gebze and was detained by the gendarmerie, following which he was released.


Journalist Baransel Ağca faces new investigation


An investigation was launched against journalist Baransel Ağca, who recently published on social media the autopsy report on the suspicious death of Kazakh journalist Yeldana Kaharman in 2019. Announcing the investigation against him on social media, Ağca said he will go to the courthouse to give his statement following the holiday.


Ahmet Saymadi detained for “insulting the president”


Socialist Refoundation Party (SYKP) member Ahmet Saymadi was taken into custody in the western province of Çanakkale on 8 May 2021 for “systematically insulting the president on social media.”


Saymadi was detained as part of an investigation launched in 2019. The allegation stems from three illustrations by Carlos Latuff, which Saymadi shared on social media in 2015. Saymadi was taken to the Ayvacık Courthouse the same night to give his statement at the prosecutor’s office, after which he was released.


Journalist and filmmaker Ruhi Karadağ sentenced for “propaganda”


Journalist, author and filmmaker Ruhi Karadağ was sentenced to 1 year and 3 months in prison for “terrorism propaganda” under Article 7/2 of the Anti-Terror Law (TMK) at the first hearing of his trial, where the accusation stemmed from several of his social media posts.


Karadağ, who lives in London, was taken into custody on 24 March in Istanbul upon his arrival at the Sabiha Gökçen Airport. He was taken to the Istanbul Courthouse the next day to give his statement to the court overseeing his trial on the charge of “terrorism propaganda.” After hearing his statement, the court released Karadağ pending trial under a ban on traveling abroad.


The first courtroom hearing of Karadağ’s trial was held on 6 May 2021. The court sentenced him to 1 year and 3 months in prison and suspended his sentence for five years.


A number of social media posts by Karadağ were held as evidence against him, including one showing a clipping from Evrensel newspaper, which promoted a book he co-wrote with journalist Faruk Balıkçı on Turkey’s failed “peace process,” other posts in which he shared news articles by the news portal T24 and Sözcü and Posta dailies, and his photos from 2015.


At least 68 journalists and media workers in prison


As of 14 May 2021, at least 68 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.