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.

Journalist Zehra Özdilek acquitted

Journalist Zehra Özdilek acquitted

Özdilek was charged with “making those involved in the fight against terrorism a target” in an interview published in Cumhuriyet daily 




The fourth and final hearing in the trial of Cumhuriyet daily reporter Zehra Özdilek on the charge of “making those involved in the fight against terrorism a target” was held on 24 September 2020 at the 27th High Criminal Court of Istanbul.


Özdilek was accused of revealing the identity of a secret witness in a criminal investigation in an interview she penned for Cumhuriyet.


P24 monitored the hearing, where Özdilek and her lawyer Buket Yazıcı were in attendance in the courtroom.


In their final opinion presented during the hearing, the prosecutor stated that the alleged offense was within the scope of freedom of expression and asked the court to acquit Özdilek on the grounds that the legal elements of the alleged crime had not formed.


In her defense statement, Özdilek told the court that before her news story was published, the name of the secret witness had already been revealed by other media outlets such as Sabah, Anadolu Agency and Yeni Şafak.


Özdilek said: “Since I wasn’t the first person to disclose the identity of the witness, I do not accept the accusation leveled against me. I request my acquittal.”


Özdilek’s lawyer Yazıcı also told the court that the name of the witness, who testified as a secret witness in a number of different trials, was mentioned in many news reports since 2017. “My client did not reveal the witness’s identity. There is nothing substantial to back up the accusation,” Yazıcı said, requesting her client’s acquittal.


In their judgment, the court took into consideration that other media outlets had published similar news stories about the witness and said that there was no additional information in Özdilek’s story that exposed the witness. Ruling in line with the prosecutor’s final opinion, the court acquitted Özdilek.