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 - 413

Freedom of Expression and the Press in Turkey - 413

Ruşen Takva acquitted; travel ban on Furkan Karabay and Faruk Eren; court recuses itself in the Ergin Çağlar case; Eren Keskin and Güllistan Yarkın to stand trial for "denigrating Turkish nation"

Journalist Ruşen Takva acquitted

The second hearing in the trial of journalist Ruşen Takva on charges of “spreading false information” over a social media post on the alleged involvement of Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) Hakkari Provincial Chairman Fatih Özbek in an armed assault was held at the Hakkari 1st Criminal Court of First Instance on 6 September 2023. Takva and her lawyer Burcu Şeber attended the hearing through the judicial videoconferencing system (SEGBİS) from the Van 5th Criminal Court of First Instance.

Presenting their final opinion on the case, the prosecutor claimed that following the publication of the posts subject to the indictment, disorder erupted in the streets of Hakkari and requested sentencing for Takva for “spreading false information.”

The court ruled to acquit journalist Takva on the grounds that the elements of the impugned crime did not exist.

Please click here for a detailed report from the hearing.

Journalists Furkan Karabay, Faruk Eren banned from travelling abroad

An international travel ban has been issued against against Gerçek Gündem news website’s reporter Furkan Karabay and Managing Editor Faruk Eren, who are on trial on charges of “marking officials assigned in the fight against terrorism as targets” due to a complaint filed by Constitutional Court judge İrfan Fidan.

The Ankara 22nd High Criminal Court, which has accepted the indictment filed by the Special Investigations Office of the Ankara Chief Prosecutor’s Office, is expected to set a date for the first hearing.

Court recuses itself in journalist Ergin Çağlar’s case

The second hearing in the trial of Mezopotamya Agency (MA) reporter Ergin Çağlar, who was detained along with JinNews reporter Rozerin Gültekin while they were covering a pro-Abdullah Öcalan protest on 12 June 2022, on charges of “violation of the Law 2911 on Meetings and Demonstrations” was held at the İstanbul 58th Criminal Court of First Instance on 4 September 2023.

Çağlar and his lawyer attended the hearing.

Çağlar said that he was detained in a hurry by police officers who would not listen to him, despite him displaying his press card both at the demonstration area and at the police station. Çağlar said, “When it became clear that there would be no press statement [by the protesters], we told police officers that we wanted to leave the demonstration area. But police officers threatened us with arrest and then arrested us.” Çağlar rejected the charge and requested his acquittal.

The court ruled to recuse itself on grounds of non-competence and sent the case file to the Bursa 29th Criminal Court of First Instance.

TCK 301 case field against Eren Keskin, Güllistan Yarkın

A court case has been filed against Human Rights Association (İHD) Co-Chair Eren Keskin and Güllistan Yarkın, a member of the İHD's committee against racism and discrimination, on charges of “publicly denigrating the Turkish nation and the state of the Republic of Turkey” under Article 301 of the Turkish Criminal Code (TCK) over an “Armenian genocide commemoration” event the association held in 2021.

The first hearing is scheduled for 27 February 2024.

Journalists prevented by the police at the Saturday Mothers/People demonstration

Journalists who were trying to cover a weekly vigil by the Saturday Mothers/People in İstanbul's İstiklal Street were prevented on 2 September by the police from filming the event. The vigil, which has been attended by relatives of those who were forcefully disapperad in the Southeast and human rights activists for 962 weeks now, has been dispersed by the police despite recent Constitutional Court judgments that established that interventions in the gathering constitute a violation of the right to free assembly. 

Police officers tried to cover up the video cameras of press workers with their hands to prevent filming of the intervention to disperse the gathering. Journalist Hayri Tunç was subjected to police violence while reporting on the news.

A total of 32 members of the Saturday Mothers/People group were arrested during the police intervention. They were released after being held in custody for five hours.

Defendant in rape case sues for defamation over coverage of his hearing

Mehmet Ardıçoğlu, who was prosecuted in Ankara for the alleged rape of 18-year-old Eda Nur Kaplan and was acquitted following Kaplan’s suicide, has filed an official complaint for defamation over reporting on the court case that appeared in online news portal Gazete Karınca.

In the complaint filed through his lawyer, Ardıçoğlu claimed he was insulted in the said coverage. Pelin Özkaptan, the former managing editor of the news portal that stopped publishing in June 2023, visited the Karaköy Police Station and gave a statement following the complaint.

In her statement, Özkaptan said that reporting on the case had appeared in almost every newspaper and news website in Turkey. Stating that no requests were made of them to remove the news item, Özkaptan said, “In the news item in question, there was no ill will or intent against the individual concerned. It focused primarily on victim Eda Nur Kaplan’s sufferings.”

Journalist Hayko Bağdat’s court case adjourned until February

The 12th hearing in the trial of journalist Hayko Bağdat on charges of “terrorism propaganda” based on his social media posts  was held at the İstanbul 28th High Criminal Court on 5 September 2023.

Bağdat’s lawyer demanded that the order for the detention of Bağdat be lifted and letter rogatory proceedings be undertaken. The prosecutor requested that the execution of the arrest warrant be awaited.

The court rejected the request for the letter rogatory proceedings on the grounds that “previous requests filed by the defendant had been turned down by the state of Germany on the grounds of violation of the public order.” Ruling to uphold the order for the arrest of Bağdat, the court adjourned the case until 6 February 2024.

Journalist, author Ercan Aktaş’s case adjourned until January

The trial of the journalist and author Ercan Aktaş on charges of “dissuading people from military service” (TCK 318) and “terrorism propaganda” resumed at the Bakırköy 2nd High Criminal Court in İstanbul on 6 September 2023.

The court ruled to await the outcome of the letter sent for the statement of Aktaş, who lives in France, to be taken abroad and adjourned the case until 10 January 2024.

At least 45 journalists and media workers in prison

As of 8 September 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.