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 - 411

Freedom of Expression and the Press in Turkey - 411

Journalist who impersonated former minister jailed; VOA Turkish given 72 hours to apply for broadcasting license; court rules for continuation of Fırat Can Arslan’s detention; journalists assaulted, threatened while covering justice march by Şenyaşar family


Journalist who impersonated former minister sent to prison


Kadir Koç, an Istanbul-based journalist and the concessionaire of the news portal, was jailed on 24 August 2023 to serve three separate prison sentences of 1 year and 11 months, 11 months and 20 days, and 8 months that he had been given on “insulting a public official” and “insulting the president” charges in three separate trials.


The accusations stemmed from Koç’s comments about former ministers Süleyman Soylu and Nureddin Nebati and President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, and a YouTube video featuring his impersonation of Nebati.


Before surrendering to prison, Koç announced on his social media account that he may have to stay in a closed prison for at least two years to serve the combined sentences, which would normally be eligible for probation if they were to be served separately.


RTÜK gives VOA Turkish 72 hours to apply for broadcasting license


On 21 August 2023, the Radio and Television Supreme Council (RTÜK) announced that it gave the news outlet Voice of America (VOA) Turkish 72 hours to apply for a broadcasting license to be able to operate in Turkey. In case VOA Turkish refuses to apply for a broadcasting license, the domain “” will be blocked for access.


Access to the former domains of VOA Turkish “” and Deutsche Welle “” was blocked by the Ankara 1st Criminal Judgeship of Peace at the request of RTÜK on 30 June 2022 on the grounds that both media outlets had refused to apply for broadcasting licenses in Turkey.


Following the access blocking decision, VOA Turkish started using the domain name “” Applications lodged with the Constitutional Court by the media outlets are still pending.


Judge rules for continuation of Fırat Can Arslan’s pre-trial detention


The Diyarbakır 1st Criminal Judgeship of Peace ordered the continuation of Mezopotamya News Agency (MA) reporter Fırat Can Arslan’s pre-trial detention on 21 August 2023.


Arslan was taken into custody on 25 July 2023 as part of an investigation launched by the Diyarbakır Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office and was jailed pending trial the same day on the charge of “marking a person assigned with the fight against terrorism as a target” under Article 6/1 of the Anti-Terror Law



The judge ruled for the continuation of Arslan’s detention on the grounds that there was “concrete evidence and reasonable suspicion” that journalist Arslan had committed the alleged crime and that “judicial control measures would be insufficient.”


Arslan was among five journalists -- along with T24 editor Sibel Yükler, MA reporter Delal Akyüz, bianet editor Evrim Kepenek and freelance journalist Evrim Deniz -- taken into custody for sharing on social media a report about the recent relocations of the public prosecutor who issued the indictment against 18 journalists arrested in Diyarbakır in June 2022, and his wife, who was a judge on the panel of the high criminal court overseeing the case against the journalists. The rest of the journalists were released under judicial control measures while Arslan was jailed pending trial. An objection filed against Arslan’s detention on 31 July was rejected by the Diyarbakır 8th Criminal Court of First Instance on 9 August.


Journalists covering justice march by Şenyaşar family assaulted, threatened


Citing President Erdoğan’s motorcade, the police prevented the Şenyaşar family from staging their “justice watch” on the 29th day of their protest in Ankara on 22 August 2023. The family was allowed to march towards the ministry building after the presidential motorcade passed.


Reporters from the Mezopotamya News Agency and Artı TV, who were covering the justice watch, were blocked by the police from taking pictures. The journalists were beaten by the police and a cameraman for Artı TV was pushed to the road where vehicles were passing. The police also tried to intentionally appear in footage recorded by the journalists and then threatened to detain the reporters for allegedly “taking pictures of plainclothes officers.”


Journalist Furkan Karabay charged with “insult” in new case


Gerçek Gündem editor Furkan Karabay is charged with “insulting a public official” in a new case. The accusation stems from Karabay’s social media posts about Deputy Ministers of Justice Akın Gürlek and Hasan Yılmaz and Constitutional Court Judge İrfan Fidan.


In the indictment, the prosecution argues that a Twitter thread comprising 27 posts by Karabay “exceeded the limits of press freedom and freedom of expression.” Arguing that the alleged offense had been committed publicly because the posts were shared on social media, the prosecutor also claimed that Karabay’s tweets constituted a “successive offense.”


The indictment was accepted by the Ankara 16th Criminal Court of First Instance, which set 17 January 2024 as the date for Karabay’s first hearing.


Journalist Can Ataklı faces “inciting hatred” allegation in new investigation


The Ankara Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office has launched an investigation against journalist Can Ataklı on account of his commentary in a video he broadcasted on YouTube on 18 August 2023.


The Chief Public Prosecutor's Office said in a statement it issued about the ex officio investigation that Ataklı’s remarks about educational activities carried out at a children’s library and playhouse run by the local Sincan Municipality had “incited the people to hatred and animosity.”


Sezen Aksu initiates enforcement proceedings against Merdan Yanardağ


Pop singer-songwriter Sezen Aksu has initiated enforcement proceedings against Tele 1 TV’s Editor-in-Chief Merdan Yanardağ, who is currently jailed pending trial in the Marmara Prison in Istanbul’s Silivri district. Yanardağ announced the proceedings against him on his social media account on 23 August 2023.


Aksu initiated the proceedings based on a judgment rendered in a lawsuit she had filed against Yanardağ in 2021. Aksu was seeking TL 100,000 in compensation over Yanardağ’s remarks criticizing her endorsement of the constitutional amendments proposed by the ruling AKP in Turkey’s 2010 referendum. Concluding the lawsuit in December 2022, the civil court ruled that Yanardağ pay Aksu TL 30,000 in compensation.


At least 45 journalists and media workers in prison


Following the imprisonment of journalist Kadir Koç this week, as of 25 August 2023 there are at least 45 journalists and media workers in prison in Turkey, either in pre-trial detention or serving a sentence.


The full list can be accessed here.