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 – 354

Freedom of Expression and the Press in Turkey – 354

ECtHR: Turkey failed to fulfill its obligations in Osman Kavala case; Metin Cihan’s Twitter account temporarily restricted; Yeni Yaşam employee Azime Bozkurt detained; prosecutor decides against prosecuting Özgür Boğatekin


ECtHR: Turkey failed to fulfill its obligations in Kavala case


The Grand Chamber of the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) declared on 11 July that Turkey has failed to fulfill its obligations under Article 46 of the European Convention on Human Rights by refusing to release imprisoned business person and civil society figure Osman Kavala despite a Court judgment delivered in 2019.


In its Grand Chamber judgment, the ECtHR said that the espionage suspicions that led to second imprisonment of Kavala were "based on facts that were similar, or even identical, to those the Court had already examined" in its 2019 judgment. The decision was made by a sixteen votes to one. Saadet Yüksel, the Turkish judge of the ECtHR, cast the only dissenting vote.


The Court said the measures and action plans offered by Turkey towards the execution of the 2019 judgment "did not permit it to conclude that the State Party had acted in 'good faith,' in a manner compatible with the 'conclusions and spirit' of the Kavala judgment."


Yeni Yaşam employee Azime Bozkurt briefly detained


Azime Bozkurt, a distributor for Yeni Yaşam newspaper, was taken into custody at a police check point on Tunceli-Ovacık highway under “reasonable doubt” on 16 July 2022. Bozkurt was released later in the same day after she gave her statement to the police.

Prosecutor drops “propaganda” investigation against Özgür Boğatekin

The chief public prosecutor’s office in the southeastern town of Gerger, Adıyaman province, has ruled to drop an investigation launched against local journalist Özgür Boğatekin over a social media post.


“For peace and the cessation of conflicts in Turkey and in the Middle East, open the gates of İmralı,” Boğatekin, the news director of Adıyaman Gerger Fırat newspaper, wrote in the social media post from September 2020. The Gerger Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office launched the investigation on the charge of “terrorism propaganda” following an anonymous complaint filed against the journalist with the Adıyaman Security Directorate.


In its decision dated 19 April 2022, the Gerger Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office stated that Boğatekin’s post did not constitute an open or close threat against the public order, underlining that “an action needs to be capable of mobilizing the target audience in order to be deemed as propaganda.”



Journalist Metin Cihan’s Twitter account suspended

Metin Cihan’s Twitter account has been temporarily suspended for “violating Twitter’s rules against posting private information” after the citizen journalist published some documents and allegations of corruption about the ruling Justice and Development Party’s (AKP) Deputy Chair Nurettin Canikli.


In a video posted on his Instagram account on 17 July 2022, Cihan said the following: “I’ve been posting certain information exposing Nurettin Canikli’s corruptions and dirty relations, which naturally make him uncomfortable. It seems that he sat down and thought of ways to respond to these and then started to send countless reports against my posts under the ‘disclosure of private information’ policy. What they call private information are such things as the addresses or other details belonging to the companies that they used in their dirty dealings; documents, correspondence, bank accounts, money transfers etc. I do not consider them as private information, no matter what anyone says. I see public interest in such information and you can be sure that I will keep finding a way to share it.”


On 18 July, Cihan announced on Twitter that the restrictions on his account were lifted but added that they could be re-imposed in the future because reports alleging violations of Twitter’s privacy rules were being made against all of his tweets concerning alleged corruption of Canikli.


Ender İmrek to go on trial for “insulting the president” in October


The first hearing in a trial where Evrensel columnist Ender İmrek is charged with “insulting the president” over his article titled “Türkiye yanıyor, saray izliyor” (Turkey is burning, the palace is watching,” which was published on 31 July 2021, will be held at the Bakırköy 44th Criminal Court of First Instance on 18 October 2022.


An indictment drafted by the Bakırköy Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office claims that the article in question contained expressions that could “offend the President’s honor, dignity and reputation” and sought conviction against İmrek.


An investigation was launched against İmrek by the Bakırköy Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office Special Crimes Bureau for “insulting the president” and “inciting hatred and enmity” on 14 December 2021. In the statement he gave during the investigation, İmrek stated that his article aimed to criticize the inadequacy of efforts to extinguish forest fires, which raged across southwestern Turkey in the summer of 2021, and had no intention to insult the President.


At least 67 journalists, media employees behind bars in Turkey


As of 19 July 2022, there are at least 67 journalists and media employees who are in prison either pending trial or serving sentence in Turkey.


The full list can be accessed here.