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.

Hayri Demir

Hayri Demir

Hayri Demir, a journalist who worked for the Dicle News Agency (DİHA) and the Mezopotamya Agency, was arrested in a police raid on 16 March 2017 in his home in Ankara.


Demir was held for eight days in a gymnasium used as a “custody station” by the Ankara Police Department. In his police interrogation, Demir was asked about his videos and news articles he wrote after visiting northern Syria.


Following his interrogtion, Demir was taken to Ankara Courthouse on 24 March 2017. After his interrogation at the prosecutor’s office, he was referred to the Criminal Judgeship of Peace and released under a travel ban and a signature obligation.


Two years after his arrest, an indictment was issued against Demir with the accusations of “being a member of a terrorist organization” and “making propaganda for a terrorist organization.” In the indictment, prepared by the Ankara Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office, photos and videos uploaded in a memory card were listed. The memory card was previously stolen from Demir’s house but then handed over to the police. Along with Demir’s social media posts, his interviews with HDP’s former Co-Chair Selahattin Demirtaş and the related photos were listed as evidence in the indictment. The Ankara 15th High Criminal Court accepted the indictment.


The first hearing of the trial was held on 24 September 2019. Noting that he did not receive the indictment, Demir demanded additional time to prepare his defense.


Demir defended himself at the second hearing of the trial on 23 October 2019 and stated that he was accused over his journalistic activities. Noting that the case was opened following his stolen memory card was delivered to the police, Demir said that the evidence was collected unlawfully and demanded his acquittal.


Demir and his lawyers didn’t attend the sixth hearing held on 1 December 2020. It was understood that the answer to the court, which was decided to be asked whether the videos of the memory card were reported or not in the previous hearing, wasn’t received.


The court decided to wait for the answer and adjourned the case trial 25 March 2021.


Trial over social media posts on Afrin


Because of his social media posts on Turkey’s military operation against northern Syrian city Afrin in January 2018, Hayri Demir was arrested on 22 January 2018 with a police raid at his home in Ankara.


Sibel Hürtaş, the representative of Artı TV in Ankara, was among the ten people who were detained with Demir within the scope of the investigation initiated by the Ankara Chief Public Prosecutor's Office regarding the social media posts about the operation called "Olive Branch.”


After four days under custody, Demir was brought to the Ankara Courthouse on 26 January 2018 and referred to the Criminal Judgeship of Piece with the prosecutor’s request for imprisonment. Following his statement before the judge, Demir was released by a travel ban.


An indictment was issued against 11 people, including Demir and Hürtaş, on 9 April 2018.


Demir’s social media posts shared before the Afrin operation on 19 January 2018 were presented as the accusations’ ground in the indictment. Demir’s interview with the People’s Democratic Party’s (HDP) former co-president Figen Yüksekdağ via letters from the prison were listed as evidence in the indictment. In prosecutor demanded Demir’s conviction for “inciting the people to hatred and hostility” and “making propaganda for a terrorist organization.”


The Ankara 15th High Criminal Court accepted the indictment and set the first hearing for 6 September 2018.


Demir defended himself at the first hearing and reminded that the social media posts subjected to the accusations were shared before Turkey launched the Afrin operation. Noting that his posts were parts of a news report, Demir said that journalism is being tried. Demir presented reports from 18 different media outlets which are similar to his accused-social media posts.


Demand for prosecution under TCK 301


In the fourth hearing of the case on 27 March 2019, the presiding prosecutor asked for an investigation to be launched against seven people, including Demir, in the scope of the Turkish Panel Code’s (TCK) Article 301 - “insulting the Turkish nation, the Republic of Turkey, Turkey Grand National Assembly of the Republic of Turkey, the Government and state judicial organs.”


The court decided to apply to the Ministry of Justice to launch the investigation.


In the ninth hearing of the trial on 25 November 2020, the Ministry of Justice still didn’t answer the request. The court decided to wait for the answer and adjourned the trial until 4 March 2021.


1.5-year sentence for 5 social media posts


A trial case was opened against Demir for "making propaganda for a terrorist organization" for posting a newspaper advertisement on his Facebook account to commemorate journalists killed in the 1990s.


In the indictment prepared by the Diyarbakır Chief Public Prosecutor's Office, Demir's five social media posts were cited as evidence for the accusation.


The first hearing of the trial was held on 15 March 2018 on the Diyarbakır 5th High Criminal Court.


In the second hearing of the trial on 29 May 2018, the court reached a verdict and sentenced Demir to 1 year, 6 months and 22 days in prison. The announcement of the sentence was deferred.