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.
Indictment drawn up against 11 journalists arrested in Ankara; journalists in earthquake zone face obstructions; sexual assault defendant files complaint against journalist İdris Yayla
11 journalists arrested in Ankara charged with "terrorist group membership"
The Ankara Chief Public Prosecutor's Office has filed an indictment against 11 journalists who were arrested in Ankara in October 2022, charging them with "membership in a terrorist organization" under the Turkish Criminal Code (TCK) Article 314. The 210-page indictment, which was accepted by the Ankara 4th High Criminal Court, consists largely of excerpts from 149 news reports published by pro-Kurdish Mezopotamya News Agency, which is accused in the document of spreading propaganda for the PKK.
All of the 11 journalists, nine of whom have been in pre-trial detention since October, are employees of the Mezopotamya News Agency and JinNews agency. Their employment at Mezopotamya agency is listed as a main evidence against them in the indictment, while JinNews is accused of "operating under PKK/KCK guidance." The journalists are also accused of participating in "legal/illegal activities organized under PKK/KCK guidance" although no detail is provided regarding these activities.
11 journalists were arrested in house raids on 25 October 2022 as part of an investigation ordered by the Ankara Chief Public Prosecutor's Office. Of the arrested journalists, Mezopotamya Editor-in-Chief Diren Yurtsever, its reporters Berivan Altan, Ceylan Şahinli, Deniz Nazlım, Selman Güzelyüz, Emrullah Acar as well as JinNews reporters Habibe Eren and Öznür Değer were imprisoned pending trial and sent to Sincan Prison on 29 October 2022. Mezopotamya reporter Zemo Ağgöz was put under house arrest and Mezopotamya intern Mehmet Günhan was released under judicial control measures. Ağgöz was subsequently released from the house arrest under judicial control measures after an objection had been filed against the decision.
On the other hand, journalist Hayri Demir gave his statement at the prosecutor's office as part of the same investigation and was referred to the criminal judgeship of peace for imprisonment on charges of "membership in a terrorist organization" on 17 February. Demir was released under judicial control measures by the judgeship. The indictment stated that the file of three journalists including Hayri Demir for whom arrest warrants had been issued has been seperated.
Journalist faces investigation for social media posts on earthquakes
Journalist Mir Ali Koçer has been summoned to give a statement over his social media posts about the earthquake disaster as part of a criminal investigation. Many journalists have reported obstructions while covering the disaster aftermath in the worst affected provinces. According to statements provided by journalists' groups and monitoring of open sources of information, at least 25 journalists based in the provinces that were hit by the twin earthquakes of 6 February have died.
For more details view our report here
Sexual assault defendant files complaint against journalist İdris Yayla
Sexual assault defendant Baran Kızıl has filed a criminal complaint against Jiyan News Publisher İdris Yayla for “threat,” “insult,” “defamation” and “violation of private life” over some news items about the assault.
Yayla gave his statement at the Batman Security Directorate as part of the investigation launched by the Batman Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office upon the complaint. In his statement, Yayla said that Kızıl had filed several complaints against journalists who reported on the incident.
Kızıl was imprisoned pending trial on 14 August 2022 and released at the end of the first hearing held at the Mardin 1st High Criminal Court of 17 January 2023.
Özgür Gündem trial adjourned until May
The 26th hearing in the trial of now-defunct Özgür Gündem newspaper executives Reyhan Çapan and Hüseyin Aykol, who are charged with “terrorism propaganda” and “praising an offense or an offender” was held at the İstanbul 13th High Criminal Court on 16 February 2023.
Neither journalists nor their lawyers attended the hearing.
The court adjourned the trial until 2 May 2023.
“KCK Press Trial” adjourned
The 27th hearing in the “KCK Press Trial,” in which 46 journalists and media workers are charged with “membership in a terrorist organization,” “leading a terrorist organization” and “terrorism propaganda” was held at the Istanbul 3rd High Criminal Court on 16 February 2023.
Only Sultan Güneş Ünsal’s lawyer attended the hearing.
The court decided to await the execution of the order for defendant İsmat Kayhan’s arrest and adjourned the trial until 20 June 2023.
Trials of journalist Hayko Bağdat adjourned
The 11th hearing in the trial of journalist Hayko Bağdat charged with “terrorism propaganda” over his social media posts was held at the İstanbul 28th High Criminal Court on 16 February 2023.
Bağdat’s lawyer attended the hearing. The court decided to await the execution of the order for Bağdat’s arrest and adjourned the trial until 5 September 2023.
The 14th hearing in another trial of Bağdat on charges of “insulting the president” over his televised remarks was held at the İstanbul 51st Criminal Court of First Instance on the same day. The court adjourned the trial until 12 October.
Trial of journalist Mehmet Göcekli charged with “terrorism propaganda” adjourned until June
The third hearing in the trial of Demokrat Haber Editor-in-Chief Mehmet Göcekli, who is charged with “terrorism propaganda” over his social media posts, was held at the İstanbul 27th High Criminal Court on 16 February 2023.
Residing abroad, Göcekli did not attend the hearing whereas his lawyer was present. P24 monitored the hearing.
The court decided to issue a writ for Göcekli’s statement to be taken via letter rogatory and adjourned the trial until 22 June.
Trial of journalist Baransel Ağca charged with “insulting the president” adjourned until June
The fourth hearing in the trial of journalist Baransel Ağca on charges of “insulting the president” over his social media posts was held at the İstanbul 2nd Criminal Court of First Instance on 14 February 2023.
Ağca, who resides abroad, did not attend the hearing, which was monitored by P24.
President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s lawyer demanded that Ağca be convicted of the impugned crime. The court decided to await the execution of the order for Ağca’s arrest and adjourned the trial until 13 June.
Trial of Eren Tutel adjourned until June
The fifth hearing in the trial of BirGün newspaper sports editor Eren Tutel on charges of “insulting a public official” over his reports on corruption allegations concerning the Turkish Wushu Federation (TWF) was held at the İstanbul 2nd Criminal Court of First Instance on 14 February 2023.
Tutel and his lawyer attended the hearing, which P24 monitored.
The prosecutor, repeating their final opinion on the case, demanded conviction for Tutel. The plaintiff lawyer also requested that Tutel be convicted.
Tutel said that the story was about a particular family using the funds transferred to the federation, a matter of public interest. “I do not think my story contained any criminal element. I do not regret for having made that report. It was a journalistic practice. I demand my acquittal," he said.
Tutel’s lawyer requested two athletes mentioned in the reports to be heard as witness. The court rejected the request and adjourned the trial until 15 June.
Trial of journalist Sultan Eylem Keleş adjourned until May
The second hearing in the trial of five people including journalist Sultan Eylem Keleş, who are charged with “insulting a public official” and “resisting a public official,” was held at the İstanbul 56th Criminal Court of First Instance on 16 February 2023.
Keleş's lawyer as well as the two plaintiff police officers attended the hearing, which P24 monitored.
The plaintiff police officers stated that they would not press charges against the five defendants, including Keleş. Keleş’s lawyer requested the court to consider Keleş as excused on the ground that she had been on duty in the earthquake zone.
The court accepted the request and ordered for other defendants to be brought by force to have their statements taken and adjourned the trial until 23 May.
Trial of journalist Ramazan Ölçen suspended due to earthquake disaster
Trial of journalist Ramazan Ölçen, who is charged with “membership in a terrorist organization,” has been adjourned until 6 April as per a decision by the Board of Judges and Prosecutors that suspended all hearings in the 10 provinces affected by the twin earthquakes of 6 February until 6 April.
The hearing had been due to be held at the Diyarbakır 11th High Criminal Court on 13 February.
Case file sent to prosecutor’s office for final opinion in “Boğaziçi exhibition trial”
The eighth hearing in the trial of seven Boğaziçi University students, who are standing trial over a depiction of the Kaaba in an exhibition in the Boğaziçi campus as part of protests against the appointment of rector Melih Bulu by President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, was held at the İstanbul 27th High Criminal Court on 17 February 2023. The hearing was set to be held at the İstanbul 21st Criminal Court of First Instance but moved due to insufficient capacity.
The defendant students did not attend the hearing.
The prosecutor requested the court to send the file initially to a panel consisting of three experts to prepare a report on whether the actions amounted public incitement to hatred and enmity and disruption in public peace, and then to the Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office for final opinion on the case to be drafted.
The court accepted the prosecutor’s request and adjourned the trial until 14 July.
At least 68 journalists and media workers in prison
There are at least 68 journalists and media employees who are in prison either pending trial or serving sentence in Turkey as of 19 February 2023.
The full list can be accessed here.