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.

Journalists Ergün and Sezer appear in court for two reports

Journalists Ergün and Sezer appear in court for two reports

Ergün and Sezer are on trial for reporting on allegations of bribery regarding President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s former lawyer. The next hearing of the case will be held in March 2022




Journalists Doğan Ergün and İzel Sezer, the former and current chief editors of the news portal İleri Haber, appeared before the Istanbul 33rd Criminal Court of First Instance on 23 December 2021 for the first hearing of their trial on charges of “insult” (TCK 125), “libel” (TCK 267) and “illegally disclosing information obtained through recording private conversations between persons” (TCK 133/3).


The charges stem from two reports İleri Haber published in December 2020 on allegations of bribery regarding President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s former lawyer, Mustafa Doğan İnal. The reports were based on allegations made by MP and former investigative journalist Ahmet Şık on Twitter and by journalists Barış Terkoğlu and Barış Pehlivan in a book they co-wrote.


P24 monitored the hearing. Ergün, Sezer and their lawyer Özgür Urfa were in attendance. A lawyer representing the complainant Mustafa Doğan İnal was also in attendance.


Addressing the court during the hearing, Ergün rejected the accusations. Explaining that the two reports were based on Twitter posts shared by lawmaker Ahmet Şık, Ergün said, “As a journalist, I take responsibility for both reports that comply with the standards of journalism and I reject the accusations. We were not the ones who committed the act of insulting but the President’s [former] lawyer, who intervened in the judiciary.”


Addressing the court next, Sezer also rejected the accusations. “The [government] is trying to create a type of journalist who only praises political authority. The rest is being silenced by means of political pressure, trials and sentences. I hope the court renders a verdict that is judicial rather than political when this case concludes.”


Lawyer Özgür Urfa said that the indictment was not based on concrete and accessible evidence: “Although the reports had a byline, the responsible editor of the time is also accused in the indictment. For this reason, we believe the case is not legal but based on different motives.”

Stating that the reports indicted were based on allegations made by Ahmet Şık in his Twitter posts and by Barış Terkoğlu in a book he co-wrote with Barış Pehlivan, the lawyer demanded that Şık and Terkoğlu be heard as witnesses.


Urfa stated that the elements of the alleged crime did not occur and requested acquittal for both of his clients.

The lawyer representing İnal, Serap Yıldız, requested to join the case and added: “We filed three lawsuits against Ahmet Şık, two of which have been accepted. Ergün is carrying out a smear campaign using his identity as a journalist.”

Accepting the complainant’s request to join the case, the court decided to rule on the request for Ahmet Şık and Barış Terkoğlu to be heard as witnesses later and adjourned the trial until 10 March 2022.