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 / 409

Freedom of Expression and the Press in Turkey / 409


Fırat Bulut charged with “disinformation” in new case; Seyhan Avşar faces new investigation; broadcasting watchdog RTÜK fines KRT and Tele 1; Sputnik Turkey fires 24 union-member journalists


Journalist Fırat Bulut charged with “disseminating false information”


Journalist Fırat Bulut is charged with “disseminating false information” in a new case filed on account of his social media posts about the deadly earthquakes of 6 February 2023.


The indictment claims that the posts held as the grounds for the accusation were “presented in a way that would create panic among the public and be against the public order that was already damaged due to the earthquake, and in a way that would not reflect the truth.”


The indictment was accepted by the Elbistan 2nd Criminal Court of First Instance, which set 19 October 2023 as the date for Bulut’s first hearing.


Bulut was taken into custody at the Ankara Esenboğa Airport upon returning from the earthquake-struck Malatya province on 10 March 2023. He was released after spending two days in detention.


Journalist Seyhan Avşar faces new investigation


Journalist Seyhan Avşar announced on her social media account on 11 August 2023 that she was facing a new investigation for reporting on allegations that a 6-year-old child had been abused in a private hospital owned by Health Minister Fahrettin Koca.


Avşar’s report headlined “Hastanedeki utancın üstünü parayla örtmüşler” (Scandal in hospital covered up with money) was published on the news portal on 2 May 2023.


Broadcasting watchdog RTÜK fines KRT and Tele 1


The Radio and Television Supreme Council (RTÜK) decided to impose separate program suspension penalties and administrative fines on KRT TV and Tele 1 TV, RTÜK members İlhan Taşcı and Tuncay Keser, both elected from the opposition CHP quota, announced this week.


KRT was given a 3 percent administrative fine and an additional 3-time program suspension penalty for allegedly “broadcasting against the indivisible integrity of the state” in an episode of the show “Haftanın Panoraması.”


Tele 1 was given a 3 percent administrative fine and an additional 3 time program suspension penalty for allegedly “broadcasting against national and moral values” for an episode of the show “Forum Hafta Sonu.”


Sputnik’s Turkey bureau lays off 24 union-member journalists


The Russian news agency Sputnik’s Turkey bureau laid off a total of 24 journalists from its Ankara and Istanbul offices who were members of the Journalists Union of Turkey (TGS) upon their decision to go on a strike after negotiations on a new collective labor agreement failed.


In press statements made in front of Sputnik’s Ankara and Istanbul offices, the dismissed journalists recalled their union rights protected by the Constitution and stated that they will continue their struggle until they are hired back under a collective labor agreement.


Journalist Hamdullah Yağız Kesen injured in police intervention


Mezopotamya News Agency (MA) reporter Hamdullah Yağız Kesen was injured as a result of the police intervention targeting a press statement by the Adana branch of the Human Rights Association (İHD) for Saturday Mothers/People on 5 August 2023.


During the police intervention, Kesen fell to the ground and hit his head on a concrete block as he was trying to cover the press statement. The journalist was taken to the hospital. He was discharged after treatment.


International groups condemn imprisonment order against Barış Pehlivan


Nineteen international rights groups and media freedom organizations issued a joint statement on 9 August 2023, condemning the latest incident of judicial harassment against journalist Barış Pehlivan and calling on Turkish authorities to respect media freedom.


Pehlivan, currently a columnist for Cumhuriyet newspaper, received a message from the Justice Ministry earlier this month, ordering him to turn himself over to the Marmara Low Security Correctional Institution (formerly Silivri) until 15 August 2023 to serve the remainder of a prison sentence of 3 years and 9 months he was given in 2020 over Odatv’s coverage of the funeral of a National Intelligence Organization (MİT) operative killed in Libya.


The joint statement read: “Pehlivan has already been incarcerated four times due to his journalism, two of those being one day behind bars [...] This order would mark his fifth time behind bars. We are concerned by the repeated judicial harassment of Pehlivan, who is exercising his fundamental right to free speech as a journalist in Türkiye. [...] In the past year 232 alerts regarding Türkiye were reported on the Mapping Media Freedom database, impacting 329 journalists, media workers or outlets, which shows the dire conditions independent journalism operate under in the country. All together, these alerts make up a quarter of all the reported alerts in Europe. [...] We call upon the Turkish authorities to reverse the decision to reimprison Pehlivan and end the systematic judicial harassment against him and other journalists.


The signatories of the joint statement are: ARTICLE 19 Europe, Articolo 21, Association of Journalists (GC), Coalition For Women In Journalism (CFWIJ), Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), Danish PEN, European Centre for Press and Media Freedom (ECPMF), European Federation of Journalists (EFJ), Freedom of Expression Association (İFÖD), Freedom House, International Press Institute (IPI), Media and Law Studies Association (MLSA), Media Research Association (MEDAR), OBC Transeuropa (OBCT), PEN America, PEN International, Reporters Without Borders (RSF), Roma Memory Studies Association (Romani Godi), South East Europe Media Organisation (SEEMO)


At least 43 journalists and media workers in prison


Following Alaaddin Akkaşoğlu’s release under probation on 30 July 2023, as of 11 August 2023 there are at least 43 journalists and media workers in prison in Turkey, either in pre-trial detention or serving a sentence.


The full list can be accessed here.