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 the Press and Expression in Turkey - 370

Freedom of the Press and Expression in Turkey - 370

Call for lawsuit against Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu as per the “disinformation” law; journalists Gayıp and Şahin sentenced to imprisonment; RTÜK makes broadcasting the AKP’s propaganda film compulsory

 

Semiha Şahin, Pınar Gayıp sentenced to imprisonment

The 20th hearing in the trial of four people, including Etkin News Agency (ETHA) editor Semiha Şahin and reporter Pınar Gayıp on charges of “membership in a terrorist organization” and “terrorism propaganda” was held at the İstanbul 23rd High Criminal Court on 2 November 2022.

 

Defendants’ lawyers were present at the hearing, which P24 monitored. Şahin and Gayıp did not attend the hearing.

 

Repeating their opinion as to the accusations presented at the hearing held on 22 March 2022, the prosecutor demanded sentencing for Şahin and Gayıp for the impugned crime.

 

Şahin and Gayıp’s lawyers pointed out that the investigation had not been duly carried out in their defense against the accusations. Gayıp’s lawyer Kader Tonç and Şahin’s lawyer Hasan Yaman stated that elements of the impugned crime did not exist and requested acquittal.

 

The court acquitted Şahin and Gayıp of “membership in a terrorist organization,” and sentenced the two journalists to 2 years 13 months and 15 days of imprisonment each for “terrorism propaganda.”

 

Sentencing Şahin to an additional 10 months of imprisonment for “propaganda” over a social media post which shows Şahin holding a flag, the court deferred the sentence.

 

You can access the full report here

 

Call for lawsuit against CHP Chairperson Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu as per “disinformation” law

The Directorate General of Security has called for a lawsuit to be filed against opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) Chairperson Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu on charges of “publicly disseminating information misleading to the public” over his statement “They used dirty money, that is billions of dollars, that is drug money, to finance Turkey’s current account deficit.”

 

Kılıçdaroğlu’s lawyer Celal Çelik said “They have revealed how that article of the law, that apparatus, will be fully used to bring limits on politicians and the freedom of expression. This is exactly what was feared.”

 

The article on “publicly disseminating information misleading to the public” which foresees a prison sentence of one to three years for the crime had been the most controversial element of a 40-article bill that was passed in Parliament on 13 October 2022. The opposition had objected that it was censorship regulation aimed at silencing the opposition before the upcoming election.

 

Prosecution seeks conviction sentencing of police officers who violently detained journalist Beyza Kural

The sixth hearing in the trial of three police officers, which was filed on charges of “violation of the freedom to work and employment” following the Constitutional Court ruling establishing a violation in the case of police violence against former bianet reporter Beyza Kural, took place at the İstanbul 35th Criminal Court of First Instance on 4 November 2022.

 

Defendants’ lawyers and plaintiff Beyza Kural were present at the hearing, which P24 monitored. Defendant police officers did not attend the hearing. Kural's lawyers excused themselves from attending.

 

At the hearing, journalists Serdal Işık and Zeynep Kuray were heard as witnesses. Işık and Kuray recounted witnessing Kural being detained with handcuffs behind her back, despite repeatedly stating she was a member of the press.

 

The prosecutor presented their final opinion on the case and stated that the defendant police officers had committed the impugned crime using the authority of public position and requested that they be sentenced for “violation of the freedom to work and employment.”

Defendants’ lawyers requested additional time to prepare a counterstatement. Accepting the request, the court adjourned the trial until 1 December 2022.

 

The three police officers Y.Ş., N.D. and K.A. had attempted to detain Kural by handcuffing her behind her back and telling her “Nothing is as it was any longer, we will teach you that” on 6 November 2015, as Kural was reporting on the protest against the Board of Higher Education in İstanbul. Deciding on Kural’s individual application on 12 January 2021, the Constitutional Court had ruled that Kural’s treatment constituted a violation of the freedom of the press and expression. The high court had decided that a new investigation be launched into the police officers to remedy the consequences of the ban on inhumane treatment and the violation of the freedom of the press and expression and order TL 15,000 worth of damages to be paid to Kural.

 

RTÜK member Konuralp: “Council has decided to make it compulsory to broadcast the AKP’s propaganda film”

The CHP member of the Radio and Television Supreme Council (RTÜK) Okan Konuralp announced in a post on his Twitter account on 3 November 2022 that RTÜK had “decided that a publicity film designed as political propaganda for the governing Justice and Development Party (AKP) to be broadcast ‘free of charge and compulsorily’ by all televisions and radio stations.”

 

In his Twitter post, Konuralp stated the following: “RTÜK has decided that a publicity film designed as political propaganda for the AKP to be broadcast ‘free of charge and compulsorily’ by all televisions and radio stations. The Ministry of Health’s publicity film called ‘HealthTürkiye’ begins with a direct reference to the AK Party’s ‘Century of Türkiye’ document. Clearly, there will be more similar decisions and television and radio channels will be used to air Ak Party propaganda ‘free of charge and compulsorily.’ It is a sad day for the AK Party when it has to seek recourse to propaganda film aired ‘free of charge and compulsorily’! But for the AK Party…”

 

AKP candidate elected to RTÜK seat

In a secret ballot case at the General Assembly of the Parliament on 1 November 2022, Mete Hacıarifoğlu of the AKP allotment was elected to fill the one free seat on the RTÜK.

 

The İYİ Party Parliamentary Group had nominated Murat İde and Çiğdem Akdemir, while the AKP Parliamentary Group had nominated Batuhan Mumcu and Mete Hacıarifoğlu for the membership of the supreme board.

 

However, the İYİ Party nominations were not placed on the ballot.

 

Journalist Gülsüm Khalilova detained in İstanbul upon Russia’s complaint

Ukrainian citizen and journalist Gülsüm Khalilova, known for her broadcasts during Russia’s invasion of Ukraine was detained in İstanbul on 28 October 2022 upon her arrival from the Croatian capital Zagreb.

 

In a statement posted on her social media account, Khalilova said that she had been held for 16 hours at İstanbul Airport, where she was detained in the morning upon a complaint from Moscow and that she was released in the evening of the same day after an intervention by officials.

 

Journalist Rüstem Batum’s case adjourned until January

The 18th hearing in the trial of journalist Rüstem Batum on charges of “publicly denigrating the military and security organisation of the state” over his televised remarks on 10 September 2015 was held at the İstanbul 43rd Criminal Court of First Instance on 4 November 2022.

 

While Batum, who lives abroad, did not attend the hearing, his lawyers were present. Batum’s lawyers requested his acquittal.

 

The court ruled to await the execution of the order for Batum’s arrest and adjourned the trial until 27 January 2023.

 

Journalist Evrim Kepenek’s trial adjourned until February

The third hearing in the trial of journalist Evrim Kepenek on charges of “insult” upon a complaint by Refik Y. following Kepenek’s reporting on child abuse was held at the Selçuk Criminal Court of First Instance on 1 November 2022.

 

Kepenek and her lawyer Meriç Eyüboğlu attended the hearing through the judicial videoconferencing system (SEGBİS) from the İstanbul Courthouse.

Denying the charge, Kepenek said she had no intention of insulting anyone. Kepenek said: “I reported by giving only initials and without including any judgmental comments. At the time R.Y. was already on trial on charges of ‘sexual abuse.’ The court will agree that trials are open to the public and I was carrying out my duty of informing the public as a journalist. I request my acquittal.”

The court accepted Kepenek’s lawyer’s request for additional time to submit other news items on the subject for inclusion in the file and adjourned the trial until 21 February 2023.

Journalist Engin Eren’s trial adjourned until 16 November

The 32nd hearing in the trial of Engin Eren, former reporter of now-defunct DİHA, on charges of “membership in a terrorist organization,” “violation of Law 2565 on Military Forbidden Zones and Secure Zones” and “violation of Law 2911 on Meetings and Demonstrations” was held at the Batman 2nd High Criminal Court on 4 November 2022.

 

The court allowed defendants and their lawyers additional time to prepare their defense against the accusation and adjourned the trial until 16 November 2022.

 

Delivering theie opinion as to the accusations at the 3 June hearing of the trial, the prosecutor had demanded sentencing for Eren for the impugned crimes.

 

Canan Kaya’s trial adjourned until February

The second hearing in the trial of Canan Kaya, licensed publisher and editor-in-chief of the Medya Koridoru website on claims of damages worth TL 20,000 by the Demirören Media Group for “harm to commercial standing and violation of personality rights” was held at the İstanbul 39th Civil Court of First Instance on 1 November 2022.

 

Kaya and her lawyer Erselan Aktan, as well as Demirören media Group’s lawyer Serkan Yalavaç attended the hearing, which P24 monitored.

 

Lawyer Yalavaç argued that the news items prepared by Kaya did not reflect the truth and were deceptive and requested the case to be accepted. The Demirören media Group had previously filed an official complaint against Kaya over unfair competition, but the İstanbul Chief Prosecutor’s Office had decided not to prosecute. Reminding the court of this development, Yalavaç requested awaiting the outcome of the objection they had filed against the decision not to prosecute.

 

Kaya’s lawyer Aktan stated that the grounds for non-pecuniary damages were not established and requested the dismissal of the case.

 

The court decided to notify the İstanbul Chief Prosecutor’s Office to inquire about the outcome of the objection filed by the Demirören Media Group. The trial was adjourned until 9 February 2023.

 

The Demirören Media Group had sued Kaya for damages worth TL 20,000 over the news item titled “Demirören yolun sonuna yaklaşıyor: Ziraat Bankası ‘kayyumları’ ne istedi? Tarihleriyle açıklıyoruz!” (“The end is near for Demirören: What did the ‘appointed administrators’ of Ziraat Bank demand? We reveal it all with dates!”) which was published on 26 November 2021.

 

The “KCK press trial” adjourned

 

The 26th hearing in the “KCK press trial” that has been ongoing since 2012 in which a total of 46 journalists are tried for “membership in a terrorist organization,” “administrating a terrorist organization” and “terrorism propaganda” was held at the İstanbul 3rd High Criminal Court on 1 November 2022.

 

Some of the defendants’ lawyers attended the hearing, which P24 followed.

 

Sercan Korkmaz, lawyer for defendant Ravin Sterk, repeated the request he had made at the last trial. Stating that prosecutor Bilal Bayraktar was facing investigation by the Council of Judges and Prosecutors (HSK) due to his actions during the investigation, Korkmaz had requested the inclusion of the HSK investigation, if complete, in the casefile as it would have a bearing on the case. The court had issued an interim order at the hearing held on 13 June 2022 to ask for the outcome of the investigation by a notice to the HSK, but had received no response.

 

The court decided to pursue the notice sent to the HSK and adjourned the case until 16 February 2023.

 

No ruling in the Zaman newspaper retrial

The eighth hearing in the retrial of the former Zaman newspaper columnists Şahin Alpay, Ali Bulaç, Ahmet Turan Alkan and Mümtazer Türköne and editor Mehmet Özdemir, whose verdicts had been overturned by the appellate court was held at the İstanbul 13th High Criminal Court on 2 November 2022.

 

Türköne, Alpay and Bulaç and lawyer Aynur Tuncel Yazgan were present at the hearing, which P24 monitored. Ahmet Turan Alkan and other defendants’ lawyers excused themselves from attending the hearing.

 

The court did not rule on the case due to excused defendants and counsel and adjourned the case until 28 November 2022.

 

The prosecutor who had presented their opinion as to the accusations at the hearing on 7 April 2022 in line with the decision to overturn by the appellate court had requested that Bulaç, Alpay, Türköne and Alkan be sentenced for “knowingly and willingly aiding the FETÖ/PDY armed terrorist organization despite not being a part of its hierarchical structure” and the case file of Özdemir whom an arrest warrant is issued for be separated.

 

At least 76 journalists and media workers in prison

 

With nine journalists being imprisoned pending trial on 29 October, there are now at least 76 journalists and media employees who are in prison either pending trial or serving sentence in Turkey as of 5 November 2022.

 

The full list can be accessed here.

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