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 - 378

Freedom of Expression and the Press in Turkey - 378

Appellate court approves sentences for Kavala and his 7 co-defendants; Şebnem Korur Fincancı and TTB members facing “terrorism” investigation; Can Dündar placed on “wanted terrorists” list; investigation into the “suspicious death” of journalist Uğur Yanıkel

 

Appellate court approves sentences for Kavala and his 7 co-defendants

The 3rd Criminal Chamber of the İstanbul Regional Court of Justice has examined and approved the aggravated life sentence for Osman Kavala and the 18 years of imprisonment each for seven other defendants ruled by the İstanbul 13th High Criminal Court on 25 April 2022.

The İstanbul 13th High Criminal Court had sentenced Kavala to imprisonment for “attempting to destroy the government of the Republic of Turkey or to prevent it from undertaking its duties” and other defendants Ayşe Mücella Yapıcı, Çiğdem Mater Utku, Ali Hakan Altınay, Mine Özerden, Can Atalay, Tayfun Kahraman and Yiğit Ali Ekmekçi for assisting the crime of “attempting to destroy the government of the Republic of Turkey or to partially or completely prevent it from undertaking its duties.”

Following an evaluation and vote carried out from 30 November - 2 December 2022, the Council of Europe’s political organ, the Committee of Ministers decided to begin “violation procedures” against Turkey for refusing to release businessperson Osman Kavala despite the European Court of Human Rights judgment concerning him. In February 2022, the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe had taken an interim decision regarding the “violation procedure.”

Osman Kavala was arrested on 18 October 2017 and imprisoned pending trial on 1 November 2017 for “financing the Gezi events.”

TTB President Şebnem Korur Fincancı and members under investigation for “membership in a terrorist organization”

The Ankara Chief Prosecutor’s Office has started an investigation into Turkish Medical Association (TTB) Central Council President Şebnem Korur Fincancı and other council members on charges of “membership in a terrorist organization.” A confidentiality order has been issued for the case.

An investigation was launched into Korur Fincancı on 20 October 2022 on charges of “terrorism propaganda” and “denigrating the state of the Republic of Turkey, the institutions and organs of state” over her statements regarding images that allegedly show the Turkish Armed Forces using chemical weapons abroad. On 27 October 2022, the Ankara 3rd Criminal Court of Peace placed Korur Fincancı in pre-trial detention for “terrorism propaganda” and sent her to Sincan Closed Women’s Prison.

Journalist Can Dündar placed on “wanted terrorists” list

Journalist Can Dündar has been placed on the “wanted terrorists” list of the Ministry of Interior. Dündar has been placed in the “grey” category and is wanted for membership in the “FETÖ/PYD terrorist organization.” A reward of up to TL 500,000 is offered for wanted persons in the grey category.

The İstanbul 14th High Criminal Court had sentenced Dündar to imprisonment of 27 years and 6 months over his reporting on National Intelligence Organization trucks carrying weapons in 2015. Dündar’s possessions were seized.

Most recently, an ex officio investigation was launched into Dündar on charges of “insulting the president” and “denigrating the state of the Republic of Turkey, the institutions and organs of state” in September due to his statements on a video recording.

Police launch investigation into the “suspicious” death of journalist Uğur Yanıkel

The İstanbul Directorate of Security has launched a “death under suspicious circumstances” investigation into the death of Halk TV YouTube Coordinator Uğur Yanıkel, who was found unconscious in the street and later died at the Taksim İlk Yardım Hospital on 23 December 2022. The surveillance camera records examined by the police show Yanıkel running through a park and jumping down a three-meter high wall.

Yanıkel was found unconscious in the street adjacent to 10 Aralık Şehitler Park and died in hospital.

Journalist Özgür Boğatekin given jail term for “insulting a public official”

The Adıyaman 5th Criminal Court of First Instance has sentenced Gerger Fırat newspaper news editor Özgür Boğatekin to 7 months and 15 days of imprisonment on charges of “insulting a public official” over a social media post.

The trial was held with the simple trial procedure and the court did not defer the sentence.

Following the objection to the ruling, the appeals hearing will be held at the Gerger Criminal Court of First Instance on 25 January 2023.

The indictment prepared by the Adıyaman Chief Prosecutor’s Office upon a complaint by the former Governor of Adıyaman Mahmut Demirtaş argued that Boğatekin’s Facebook post that read "Dönemin Adıyaman Valisi (Mıha) ya da mahkeme kararıyla tescillenen diğer ismiyle "Kıç valisi" Mahmut Demirtaş tarafından milyonlar dökülerek dere yatağına yaptırılan Beştepe Vadisi neden 3 yıldır kapalı?" (“Why is the Beştepe Vadisi Park built on the stream bed by pouring in millions by the former Governor of Adıyaman (Mıha) or the Governor of Kıç, to refer to him by his court approved name, still not open after three years?”)

Journalist Ömer Çelik applies to the Constitutional Court for rights violations

Journalist Ömer Çelik has filed an application with the Constitutional Court for being maltreated in detention and his imprisonment sentence due to reporting on the e-mails belonging to then Minister for Energy Berat Albayrak.

Ömer Çelik, who reported on the information in e-mails belonging to Albayrak which were leaked by the cyber piracy group Redhack was detained in a police raid on his home in Diyarbakır on 24 December 2016 and was held in custody for 24 days at the İstanbul Directorate of Security on charges of “membership in a terrorist organization” and “illegally obtaining and disseminating personal data.” Çelik was subjected to verbal denigration and maltreatment during his time in custody.

Çelik was placed in prison on 17 January 2017 over his news items published by the Dicle News Agency (DHA) and social media posts, while the indictment concerning him was presented on 23 June. Çelik was released pending trial at the first hearing held on 24 October.

At the final hearing held on 31 December 2021, Çelik was sentenced to imprisonment of 20 months on charges of “illegally entering informatics systems and illegally obtaining personal data.” Following the approval of the ruling by the İstanbul Regional Court of Justice on 17 November 2022, Çelik’s lawyer Özcan Kılıç has applied to the Constitutional Court.

Imprisoned journalist denied freely circulating book

Ramazan Geciken, one of the 16 journalists being kept in pre-trial detention at Diyarbakır High Security Prison since 16 June 2022 without an indictment against them, was denied a book sent to him by his family. The book Sinopta İdam Geceleri written by Yılmaz Sezgin that recounts the period of the 1980 coup, published by Aram Publications and is still in print was confiscatedby the prison reading commission.

The judge reviewing the decision ruled that the imprisoned persons should not be allowed access to the book on the grounds of “encountering instances that could disrupt or endanger institutional discipline, order or security; make it more difficult to attain the objective of reforming convicts or contain explicit news, writing, photographs or commentary.”

Visiting applications to journalists held in Sincan Prison denied

According to a report by the Human Rights Foundation of Turkey (TİHV), applications by visitors to journalists Habibe Eren, Öznur Değer, Diren Yurtsever, Berivan Altan, Ceylan Şahinli, Deniz Nazlım, Emrullah Acar, Selman Güzelyüz and Hakan Yalçın in Ankara Sincan Prison were denied by the Prison Administration and Observation Board on grounds of “investigation into the visitors yielding unfavorable information.”

Şebnem Korur Fincancı’s request to be released denied again

The second hearing in the trial of Prof. Dr. Şebnem Korur Fincancı, President of the Central Council of the Turkish Medical Association (TTB) on charges of “terrorism propaganda” was held at the İstanbul 24th High Criminal Court on 29 December 2022.

Korur Fincancı has been in pre-trial detention since 27 October for calling an investigation into allegations that the Turkish Armed Forces had used chemical weapons against PKK targets. Korur Fincancı and her lawyers attended the hearing which P24 monitored. Defending against the accusations, Korur Fincancı said “I do not think I have committed a crime and I will continue with my struggle.”

Speaking against the accusations, lawyer Meriç Eyüboğlu said that the court had denied even their requests regarding procedure without justification and that the court was no longer acting objectively. Eyüboğlu requested that the panel of judges recuse themselves from the case.

The court denied the request for recusal and decided to keep Korur Fincancı in detention. The case was adjourned until 11 January 2023.

Please click here for a detailed report.

İzel Sezer, Batuhan Batan appear before court

The first hearing in the trial of İleri Haber Editor-in-Chief İzel Sezer and Managing Editor Batuhan Batan on charges of “insult” and “defamation” upon a complaint by President Erdoğan’s former lawyer Mustafa Doğan İnal was held at the İstanbul 25thCriminal Court of First Instance on 27 December 2022.

Sezer, Batan and lawyers for the parties attended the hearing, which P24 monitored.

After identification, Sezer and Batan’s lawyer Özgür Urfa stated that another case filed by the same person regarding the same news content against Sezer was already underway at the İstanbul 33rd Criminal Court of First Instance and said: “The subject matter is the same, the parties are the same. For purposes of procedural economy, we request the cases be merged without cross-examination being carried out.”

Mustafa Doğan İnal’s lawyer stated that they did not request a merger of cases and requested to join the case as co-plaintiff.

The court accepted the request and ruled to issue a writ to the İstanbul 33rd Criminal Court of First Instance to request its acquiescence in the merger. The court allowed Sezer and Batan time until the next hearing to prepare their defense until the next hearing and adjourned the trial until 11 April 2023.

Replying to the writ from the İstanbul 25th Criminal Court of First Instance on 28 December 2022, the İstanbul 33rd Criminal Court of First Instance refused the request for a merger of cases.

A case had been filed against former İleri Haber editor-in-chief Doğan Ergün and then managing editor and current editor-in-chief İzel Sezer for reporting on the claims that President Tayyip Erdoğan’s former lawyer Mustafa Doğan İnal had “bargained for bribes” that were made in the book Cendere by journalists Barış Terkoğlu and Barış Pehlivan and the social media posts by TİP MP Ahmet Şık regarding the allegations. İnal later filed a case against İzel Sezer and Batuhan Batan for reporting on the case filed against the journalists.

Journalist Sonya Bayık’s trial adjourned until March

The sixth hearing in the trial of journalist Sonya Bayık on charges of “violating the the Law 2911 on Meetings and Demonstrations” was held at the Batman 1st Criminal Court of First Instance on 27 December 2022.

Some other defendants’ lawyers were present at the hearing, which Sonya Bayık and Bayık’s attorney did not attend. P24 monitored the hearing.

Ruling to await the execution of the orders for some defendants’ arrest, the court adjourned the trial until 21 March 2023.

Journalist Ziya Çiçekçi’s trial adjourned until April

The 11th hearing in the trial of journalist Ziya Çiçekçi on charges of “terrorism propaganda” was held at the İstanbul 33rd High Criminal Court on 27 December 2022.

The trial was adjourned until 19 April 2023.

Journalist Can Dündar’s trial adjourned until April

The fifth hearing in the trial of Can Dündar, former editor-in-chief of the Cumhuriyet newspaper, on charges of “obtaining information that due to its content must be kept confidential for the security of the state or its internal and external interests for political or military espionage purposes” over the news item “National Intelligence Organization Trucks Sent to Syria” that appeared in Cumhuriyet on 29 May 2015 was held at the İstanbul 14th High Criminal Court on 27 December 2022.

Dündar and his lawyer did not attend the hearing.

The court decided to await the execution of the order for Dündar’s arrest and the fulfilment of the request for his extradition from abroad and adjourned the trial until 5 April 2023.

At least 75 journalists and media workers in prison

There are at least 75 journalists and media employees who are in prison either pending trial or serving sentence in Turkey as of 2 January 2023.

The full list can be accessed here.

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