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 - 438

Freedom of Expression and the Press in Turkey - 438

PİRHA reporter Diren Keser imprisoned; Dicle Müftüoğlu released from prison; three journalists detained in police raid in Van released; Sedat Yılmaz acquitted; Erdem Gül given jail term

PİRHA reporter Diren Keser imprisoned

Pir News Agency (PİRHA) Mersin reporter Diren Keser was sent to prison on 28 February 2024.

Keser had been sentenced to 21 months of imprisonment over his news items and social media posts at the final hearing in his trial on 26 December 2017.


Upon the approval of his sentence, Keser was detained by police officers who arrived at his residence in the evening. He was later arrested and placed in Tarsus Prison.

Yeni Yaşam newspaper employee İbrahim Karakaş released

The hearing in the retrial of Yeni Yaşam newspaper employee İbrahim Karakaş following the Court of Cassation’s decision to overturn the prison sentence of 9 years and 9 months for the crime of “membership in a terrorist organization” issued by the Adana 11th High Criminal Court has been held. Karakaş had been imprisoned pending trial for his journalistic activities and over a witness’ statement in Adana on 6 November 2020.

Karakaş and his lawyer Tugay Bek attended the hearing.

Delivering his defense statement following identification, Karakaş rejected the charges against him and requested his release and acquittal. His lawyer Tugay Bek then spoke and said that Karabaş was a journalist and not a member of any organization. Following his defense statement, lawyer Bek requested the release and acquittal of his client.

Announcing its ruling after the defense statements, the panel of judges ruled to sentence Karakaş to 6 years and 10 months of imprisonment for the crime of “membership in a terrorist organization” and released him on condition of not leaving the province of Adana, not travelling abroad and having to sign his name on a regular basis at the police station.

Constitutional Court rules for “rights violation” in “fraud” reporting

The Constitutional Court has ruled for a “rights violation” regarding the denial of access to the news item titled "Milletvekili Gülaçar nitelikli dolandırıcılık mı yapıyor?" (“Is Gülaçar MP committing aggravated fraud?”) broadcast on the Van-based Anadolu Web TV website on 25 January 2022.

The news item had reported on claims that Osman Nuri Gülaçar, who had stood for the Mayor of Van metropolitan Municipality for the Justice and Development Party (AKP) had purchased a significant amount of goods from a single seller during his campaign, had not paid the amount owed and therefore caused harm to the person he had shopped from. Gülaçar then filed a complaint against journalist Yasin İpek for “insult” and “defamation.” The prosecutor’s office decided not to prosecute over the criminal complaint.

Upon the prosecutor’s office’s decision not to prosecute, Gülaçar applied to the criminal court of peace, which issued a denial of access order concerning the news item. Anadolu Web TV website’s lawyer Jindar Uçar applied to the Constitutional Court. Examining the case, the high court asked for the Ministry of Justice’s opinion, which responded that the content to which access had been denied was “of a nature that clearly violates personality rights.”

The Constitutional Court has rejected the ministry’s view and ruled that the case was a violation of the freedom of expression. The Constitutional Court also ruled that the denial of access to the news item constituted a rights violation.

Court of Cassation overturns the sentencing of journalist and artist Zehra Doğan

The 3rd Criminal Chamber of the Court of Cassation has delivered its judgment on the application of journalist and artist Zehra Doğan, who was imprisoned for more than two years between 2017 and 2019 on the charge of “terrorism propaganda.” The 3rd Criminal Chamber of the Court of Cassation overturned the sentencing of Doğan on grounds of “unlawfulness.” It also stated that the verdict had been issued after inadequate examination.

On 2 March 2017, Zehra Doğan was sentenced to 2 years 9 months and 22 days of imprisonment for her reporting and the photos she shared through social media during the curfew and clashes in the Nusaybin district of Mardin. The appeal against the ruling of the Mardin 2nd High Criminal Court was rejected by the 3rd Criminal Chamber of the Gaziantep Regional Court of Justice, which did not find any “inaccuracies” in the ruling of the lower court, on 9 May 2017. The case was then brought before the Court of Cassation.

Zehra Doğan was imprisoned due to having an “approved sentence” during a road check while travelling from Diyarbakır to Mardin to visit her family on 17 June 2017. Doğan, who spent more than two years in prison and served her sentence was released from the Tarsus Closed Women’s Prison on 24 February 2019.

Three journalists detained in police raid in Van released

On 27 February 2024, the police raided the homes of journalists Lokman Gezgin, Oktay Candemir and Arif Aslan in Van and detained the journalists. The journalists were taken to the Counter-Terrorism Branch Directorate of the Van Provincial Directorate of Security and completed giving their statements on 28 February 2024.

The journalists were questioned on suspicion of “financing terrorism” and were asked about the royalty payments they received for providing reporting to media organizations publishing in European countries.

Almost all the people who were listed as the sender or recipient of transactions from the journalists’ bank accounts were described as “people with a record of terrorism crimes.”

Journalist Aslan’s file included payments made to reporters working for the news website they had founded, as well as money transfers to his brother, as crimes.

After their statements were received, the journalists were transferred to the prosecutor’s office.

The journalists were released on 29 February 2024, after having provided a statement at the prosecutor’s office.

Defendants in armed attack against journalist Yaman Kaya to be tried for “attempted murder”

The indictment filed on the charge of “attempted murder” against two remanded defendants, who fired on the car being driven by Yaman Kaya, editor-in-chief of the Başka newspaper published in Bursa was accepted by the Bursa 6th High Criminal Court.

The date of the first hearing was set for 8 May 2024.

An armed assault was launched against journalist Yaman Kaya, as he was driving in the Cumhuriyet neighborhood of the Nilüfer district of Bursa on 13 November 2023, but Kaya escaped unharmed. The two suspects, who were detained, were initially released by the court on duty on “house arrest,” but were sent to pre-trial detention by the Bursa 3rd Criminal Court of First Instance on duty on 22 November 2023 upon the prosecutor’s office’s objection to their release.

Objections by journalists under house arrest and judicial control measures dismissed

Objections filed against the decisions regarding the five journalists and the DEM Party press officer who were detained in İzmir on 13 February 2024 and released by the İzmir 4th Criminal Court of Peace on 16 February 2024 on house arrest and judicial control measures have been dismissed.

The 4th Criminal Court of Peace had ordered Mezopotamya news agency (MA) reporter Semra Turan and Gazete Duvar news site reporter Cihan Başakçıoğlu to sign their name twice a week at the police station and had placed MA reporters Delal Akyüz and Tolga Güney, JinNews reporter Melike Aydın and DEM Party press officer Fatma Funda Akbulut under house arrest.

The İzmir 7th Criminal Court of First Instance, with which lawyers had filed the objections, dismissed the objections on the grounds that the decisions were appropriate.

The same court has also rejected the objection by the prosecutor’s office, which requested the imprisonment of the journalists. As the case is under a secrecy order, lawyers were not given information why the prosecutor’s office’s objection had been dismissed.

The trial of eight journalists over a complaint by President Erdoğan’s former lawyer adjourned

The eighth hearing in the trial of journalists Can Bursalı, Barış Terkoğlu, Barış Pehlivan, Gökmen Karadağ, Doğan Akın and the Independent Türkçe’s editor-in-chief Nevzat Çiçek on charges of “insult” and “defamation” over a criminal complaint filed by President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s former lawyer Mustafa Doğan İnal was held at the İstanbul 2nd Criminal Court of First Instance on 29 February 2024.

Defendants Can Bursalı, Barış Terkoğlu, Barış Pehlivan, Gökmen Karadağ, Nevzat Çiçek and lawyers for the parties were present at the hearing, which P24 monitored.

The presiding judge said that the cases against journalists Doğan Akın and Gökmen Karadağ had been merged with the current case in between hearings. The judge also said that the court had received a request to merge the case against journalist Fatih Portakal, over the interview he had carried out with Barış Terkoğlu, but that the court had dismissed the request.

Delivering his defense statement following identification, Çiçek said, “We published a retraction text regarding the news item subject to the case, the reporter obtained the views of the other party and added them to the news item and after the denial of access decision we took down the news item. What more could we have done short of handing over publishing rights to the complainant? I reject the charges. The press is free.” Çiçek’s lawyer Ersin Tezcan said, “My client is the editor-in-chief of the Independent Turkish. My client does not have criminal culpability as per the criminal code and the Law on the Press. We request his acquittal.”

In his defense statement, Terkoğlu said, “The charges of ‘insult’ and ‘defamation’ against me in the indictment are ungrounded. The indictment does not provide concrete evidence regarding the charges. A prosecutor must be able to provide evidence for charges. There is no crime. This is a case someone using their power over the judiciary to intimidate me.”

Pehlivan delivered his defense statement after Terkoğlu. Pehlivan said, “This trial is proof of what we wrote about in our book. If this trial results in sentencing, it will be proof of the influence of Mustafa Doğan İnal over this courthouse. As we revealed the contamination of the judiciary, the person who has headed it is trying to intimidate us so that we do not write about it.”

Karadağ spoke afterwards and said, “It is very sad for journalistic activities to be so easily depicted as criminal acts. I do not accept the charges” and requested his immediate acquittal. Terkoğlu, Pehlivan and Karadağ’s lawyer Deniz Ali İlkem Demir requested the immediate release of his clients on grounds that elements of the impugned crime had not formed.

Bursalı delivered his defense statement last and said, “I wrote about how the İstanbul Metropolitan Municipality (İBB) had paid president Erdoğan’s former lawyer Mustafa Doğan İnal TL 15 million in lawyer’s fee for a single case. This was proven by the payment slips the İBB has made available for the case file. There is no insult or defamation here, just concrete information.” Bursalı’s lawyer Melike Polat stated, “This case was filed, despite us providing the İBB payment slips at the investigation stage. The crime has not formed. We request my client’s acquittal.”

Mustafa Doğan İnal’s lawyer Mehmet İnal said they upheld their complaint and requested sentencing for the journalists.

The court ruled to invite Can Özçelik and Gökmen Karadağ, whose cases had been merged with the current case, to provide a statement and adjourned the trial until 4 July 2024.

In the book Metastaz 2: Cendere penned jointly by Barış Terkoğlu and Barış Pehlivan, the authors had claimed that President Erdoğan’s former lawyer Mustafa Doğan İnal had received TL 15 million in lawyer’s fee from the İBB. Bursalı wrote about these claims in a news item published on the Independent Turkish on 3 December 2020. The indictment argued that claims that İnal had been given power of lawyer despite not being on the payroll of the İBB had harmed İnal’s “honor, dignity and standing in society.”

Order issued for the detention of journalist Baransel Ağca

The fifth hearing in the trial of journalist Baransel Ağca on the charge of “illegally obtaining personal data” was held at the Elazığ 8th Criminal Court of First Instance on 29 February 2024.

Ağca and his lawyer did not attend the hearing.

The prosecutor requested the court to issue an order for the detention of Ağca.

The court accepted the request and adjourned the case until 2 July 2024.

Prosecutor requests sentencing for Furkan Karabay

The second hearing in the trial of journalist Furkan Karabay on charges of “insult” and “defamation” over a complaint filed by President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s former lawyer Mustafa Doğan İnal was held at the İstanbul 2nd Criminal Court of First Instance on 29 February 2024.

Karabay and lawyers for the parties were present at the hearing, which P24 monitored.

Submitting their final opinion on the case, the prosecutor requested sentencing for Karabay for both impugned crimes.

Karabay’s lawyer requested time to set up a counterstatement against the prosecutor’s opinion. The court accepted the request and adjourned the trial until 6 June 2024.

Karabay is on trial over his news item titled “Muhammed Yakut, Erdoğan’ın avukatı Mustafa Doğan İnal’ı neden tehdit etti? FETÖ Borsası iddialarının olduğu silahlı saldırıda iddianame çıktı” (Why did Muhammed Yakut threaten Erdoğan’s lawyer Mustafa Doğan İnal? Indictment filed in the armed attack claimed to be connected to the FETÖ Stock Exchange”) which appeared on Gerçek Gündem news site on 19 April 2023.

Evrensel contributor İhsan Çaralan’s trial adjourned until July

The 29 February 2024 dated hearing in the trial of Evrensel newspaper contributor İhsan Çaralan on the charge of “terrorism propaganda” over his participation in the “Editor-in-Chief on Watch” campaign carried out in solidarity with the Özgür Gündem newspaper was held at the İstanbul 14th High Criminal Court.

The prosecutor once more asked for time to prepare their final opinion on the case. The trial was adjourned until 9 July 2024.

The “Editor-in-Chief on Watch” campaign in solidarity with the Özgür Gündem newspaper, which was later shut down by statutory decree (KHK), in which participants acted as the newspaper’s editor-in-chief for one day, began on 3 May 2016 and ended on 7 August 2016. Of the 56 participants in the campaign, 49 faced investigation on suspicion of “terrorism propaganda” and “printing or publishing declarations or statements of terrorist organizations.”

Journalist Sedat Yılmaz acquitted of “terrorism” charges

The second hearing in the trial of Mezopotamya Agency (MA) editor Sedat Yılmaz on charges of “membership in a terrorist organization” and “establishing and administrating a terrorist organization” was held at the Diyarbakır 4th High Criminal Court on 29 February 2024.

Yılmaz and his lawyers were present at the hearing, which P24 monitored.

Submitting their final opinion on the case, the prosecutor requested sentencing for Yılmaz for the impugned crimes.

Speaking against the prosecutor’s opinion, Yılmaz said he did not agree with the opinion and requested his acquittal.

The court ruled to acquit Yılmaz on grounds of inadequate evidence.

Click here for a detailed report.

Journalist Dicle Müftüoğlu released after 10 months in remand

The third hearing in the trial of journalist and Dicle Fırat Journalists’ Association co-chair Dicle Müftüoğlu on charges of “membership in a terrorist organization” and “establishing and administrating a terrorist organization” was held at the Diyarbakır 5th High Criminal Court on 29 February 2024. Müftüoğlu had been kept in pre-trial detention at the Sincan Closed Women’s Prison for approximately 10 months.

Dicle Müftüoğlu attended the hearing via the judicial videoconferencing system from the Sincan Closed Women’s Prison, while her lawyers were present for the hearing in the courtroom.

Speaking about the request for her release, Müftüoğlu said, “As a journalist I have been held in pre-trial detention for 10 months. This amounts to preventing me from practicing my profession. We have provided tangible evidence to refute the witnesses’ statements against me. I find it humiliating to be held in remand over these untrue claims. I request my release and acquittal to compensate for the unlawfulness and the victimization I have suffered.”

The court ruled to release Dicle Müftüoğlu with a ban on her travelling abroad. The trial was adjourned until 13 June 2024.

Click here for a detailed report.

Erdem Gül sentenced to imprisonment in “MİT trucks” retrial

The third hearing in the retrial of the Cumhuriyet newspaper’s former Ankara representative Erdem Gül on the charge of “knowingly and willingly aiding an illegal organization without being a part of its hierarchical structure” over the publication of images of National Intelligence Organization (MİT) trucks was held at the İstanbul 14th High Criminal Court on 28 February 2024.

Erdem Gül and his lawyers were present at the hearing, which P24 monitored.

The prosecutor repeated their final opinion on the case presented at the hearing on 30 November 2023 and requested sentencing for Gül for the impugned crime.

The court ruled to sentence Gül to 5 years of imprisonment for the crime of “knowingly and willingly aiding an illegal organization despite not being a part of its hierarchical structure.”

Click here for a detailed report.

Journalist Özgür Boğatekin acquitted in retrial

Journalist Özgür Boğatekin, who was sentenced to imprisonment for the crime of “defamation” over his news items and columns concerning former Gerger District Governor Ömer Bilgin, Adıyaman was acquitted at the final hearing in the retrial of the case on 28 February 2024. The retrial was held at the Gerger Criminal Court of First Instance following the Constitutional Court’s ruling for rights violation.

Özgür Boğatekn, reporter for the Gerger Fırat newspaper which is published in Adıyaman, had written four columns in 2013, in which he made claims against the district governor. Upon a complaint by the district governor, a case on the charge of “defamation” had been filed against the journalist. The Gerger Criminal Court of First Instance sentenced Boğatekin to 12 months and 15 days of imprisonment in 2015 and the verdict was approved by the Court of Cassation on 9 March 2020.

On 16 July 2020, Boğatekin applied to the Constitutional Court. The Constitutional Court announced its reasoning for the rights violation ruling dated 14 June 2023 on 7 December 2023. The Gerger Criminal Court of First Instance had then begun the retrial.

Trial of Saturday Mothers/People adjourned until June

The trial of 20 relatives of missing people on the charge of “violating the Law on Meetings and Demonstrations” over their demonstration in week 950 began at the İstanbul 39th Criminal Court of First Instance on 27 February 2024.

A number of defendants and lawyers were present at the hearing, which P24 monitored.

Lawyers for the defense requested the immediate acquittal of their clients. Following defense statements, the prosecutor requested missing elements in the case file to be completed.

The presiding judge said that the request for immediate acquittal would be considered once the defense statement of all defendants had been obtained.

The court ruled to watch the footage in the file after the statements of those missing person’s relatives and rights advocates who are yet to provide statements were obtained and adjourned the trial until 7 June 2024.

Die Welt reporter Deniz Yücel’s trial adjourned until June

The eighth hearing in the trial of Deniz Yücel, reporter for the German daily Die Welt on the charge of “publicly denigrating the Turkish nation and the state of the Republic of Turkey” and “insulting the president” was held at the İstanbul 2nd Criminal Court of First Instance on 27 February 2024.

While Yücel did not attend, his lawyer Emine Özhisar was present at the hearing, which P24 monitored.

The court ruled to send another letter rogatory to German government and adjourned the trial until 27 June 2024.

Barış Pehlivan and Ozan Alper Yurtoğlu’s trial adjourned until June 2024

The fifth hearing in the trial of Cumhuriyet newspaper contributor Barış Pehlivan and Managing Editor Ozan Alper Yurtoğlu on charges of “insulting the president” and “insulting a public official” was held at the İstanbul 15th Criminal Court of First Instance on 27 February 2024

The trial was adjourned until 4 June 2024.

Journalist Yağmur Kaya acquitted

The seventh hearing in the trial of journalist Yağmur Kaya on the charge of “marking those assigned with the fight against terrorism as target” was held at the Aydın 2nd High Criminal Court on 27 February 2024.

While Kaya did not attend the hearing, lawyer Fatih Aydın was present.

The prosecutor submitted their final opinion on the case and requested the acquittal of Kaya.

Following the defense statement by lawyer Aydın, the court ruled to acquit journalist Yağmur Kaya.

“TCK 301” trial of rights advocates Eren Keskin and Güllistan Yarkın to continue in March 2024

The first hearing in the trial of Human Rights Association (İHD) Co-Chair Eren Keskin and member of the İHD’s Commission Against Racism and Discrimination Güllistan Yarkın on the charge of “publicly denigrating the Turkish nation and the state of the Republic of Turkey” was held at the İstanbul 51st Criminal Court of First Instance on 27 February 2024.

P24 monitored the hearing, which Keskin, Yarkın and their lawyers attended.

Upon being asked by the presiding judge after the defense statement, both Keskin and Yarkın said they would not accept the deferment of the sentence.

The prosecutor requested time for completing the missing elements in the file and the preparation of the final opinion on the case. The panel of judges accepted the request and adjourned the trial until 26 March 2024.

ETHA editor Nadiye Gürbüz acquitted of “terrorism” charges

The second hearing in the trial of Etkin News Agency (ETHA) editor Nadiye Gürbüz on charges of “membership in a terrorist organization” and “terrorism propaganda” was held at the İstanbul 25th High Criminal Court on 27 February 2024.

While Gürbüz did not attend, her lawyer was present at the hearing, which P24 monitored.

The defense requested acquittal.

The court ruled to acquit Gürbüz.

Click here for a detailed report.

Abdullah Kaya’s trial on “terrorism” charges begins

The first hearing in the trial of journalist Abdullah Kaya on charges of “membership in a terrorist organization” and “aiding a terrorist organization” got underway at the Ağrı 2nd High Criminal Court on 27 February 2024.

No parties attended the hearing.

The prosecutor requested the missing elements in the case file to be completed.

The court ruled to issue a writ to the prosecutor’s office to inquire into confiscated digital materials and to issue a writ to the Ağrı 1st High Criminal Court to inquire about the outcome of another case against Kaya.

The trial was adjourned until 30 April 2024.

At least 30 journalists and media workers in prison

With the release of Dicle Müftüoğlu and İbrahim Karakaş and the imprisonment of Diren Keser, as of 1 March 2024, there are at least 30 journalists and media workers in prison in Turkey, either in pre-trial detention or serving a sentence.

The full list can be accessed here.

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