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 in State of Emergency - 135 

Journalists in State of Emergency - 135 

Six journalists arrested in 3 provinces; former responsible managing editor of Evrensel faces 6 years in prison for “Paradise Papers” stories

Etkin news agency (ETHA) editor Semiha Şahin and two correspondents of the agency, Pınar Gayıp and Adil Demirci, were taken into custody by the police during early morning raids on their homes on April 13.

News reports said Demirci was originally based in Germany and has been on vacation in Istanbul for the past several days.

Another ETHA reporter, Ömer Akın, was also arrested in the afternoon as he was covering a news story in Kadıköy.

The grounds for the journalists’ arrests were unclear as of Friday afternoon.

Özgürlükçü Demokrasi distributor arrested 

Barış Polat, a Gaziantep-based distributor for the pro-Kurdish Özgürlükçü Demokrasi newspaper, was taken into custody on April 12 at the intercity bus terminal of Gaziantep. The newspaper recently made headlines with the March 28 police raid on its head office and the detention of several of its editors. The grounds for Polat’s arrest were not disclosed.

Journalist Naif Yaşar briefly detained in Van 

Journalist Naif Yaşar was arrested on April 11 in the eastern province of Van during an early morning police raid on his house. Yaşar was taken to the anti-terror branch of the Van Police Department. He was released the same day on judicial control terms. Sources said the grounds for his arrest were the interviews Yaşar conducted during the “Turkish-Kurdish Peace Process.”

Silvan Mücadele local newspaper’s owner arrested 

Ferhat Parlak, the owner of the Diyarbakır-based local newspaper Silvan Mücadele, was taken into custody on April 11 during police operations in the southeastern district of Silvan along with at least three other people. The grounds for the arrests were not disclosed.

Nurcan Baysal faces 3 years in prison for “inciting public hatred” 

Journalist and columnist Nurcan Baysal will stand trial at the 7th Criminal Court of First Instance of Diyarbakır on the charge of “inciting the public to hatred and animosity or degrading.” 

Baysal was arrested on January 22 on account of her social media posts concerning Turkey’s ongoing military operation on Syria’s Afrin. She was released from custody on January 24.

The indictment, issued by the Diyarbakır Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office, seeks up to three years in prison for Baysal. The trial is expected to get under way in the coming months.

Former Evrensel editor risks 6 years in prison for “Paradise Papers” reports

Çağrı Sarı, the former responsible managing editor of Evrensel daily, faces up to six years in prison on “insult” and “slander” charges for publishing two news stories about “Paradise Papers” in November 2017.

The Bakırköy 2nd Criminal Court of First Instance recently accepted an indictment against Evrensel and its former responsible managing editor, issued upon a complaint by Energy Minister Berat Albayrak and his brother Serhat Albayrak. Serhat Albayrak’s name was mentioned in “Paradise Papers,” a set of 13.4 million leaked confidential electronic documents relating to offshore investments by more than 120 politicians, among other high profile names, from 50 countries.

Jin News reporter Filiz Zeyrek released after 13 days in custody

Jin News reporter Filiz Zeyrek, who was arrested on March 30 in Adana during an early morning raid, was released on April 12 after spending 13 days in custody.

Zeyrek was among 38 individuals who were arrested during the sweeping operations conducted in Adana, Istanbul, Isparta, Mersin, Osmaniye and MArdin on account of their social media posts.

The news photographs found on Zeyrek’s computer were regarded as evidence against the journalist during her police interrogation. A prosecutor referred Zeyrek to court for detention on remand on the charge of “membership in a terrorist organization.” The court released the reporter, imposing judicial control terms and a travel ban.

Journalist Ömer Ödemiş released on judicial control 

An Ankara court on April 11 released journalist Ömer Ödemiş, the Middle East representative and editor for the online newspaper ABC and TELE 1 Television, who was taken into custody on April 7 in Hatay, on judicial control terms.

Ödemiş was arrested on the accusation of “conducting propaganda for a terrorist organization” as part of an investigation launched by the Ankara Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office.

The journalist was brought to Ankara upon being arrested. Anti-terror police also searched Ödemiş’s apartment in Ankara, confiscating several documents, books and digital material found in the house.

More Boğaziçi University students taken into custody

Two more students from Istanbul’s Boğaziçi University were taken into police custody on campus on April 12 for protesting a group of Boğaziçi students who were distributing Turkish delights on campus late March in support of Turkey’s military operation on Afrin. 

At least 16 of the protesting students had been arrested during police raids in late March and nine of those students were jailed pending trial on April 3 on the charge of “spreading terrorist propaganda.”

A detailed report can be found here.

Peace academics convicted of “terrorism propaganda”

Two signatories of the “Academics for Peace” declaration were convicted of “terrorism propaganda” and sentenced to 15 months in prison on April 12. The sentences were deferred.  

The academics, Stefo Benlisoy of the Istanbul Technical University and Yasemin Gülsüm Acar from Özyeğin University, appeared before the Istanbul 32nd High Criminal Court for the second hearing of their cases. In Benlisoy’s trial, the court rejected lawyers’ requests for further discussion of evidence. In Acar’s trial, lawyer Selin Yılmaz said Acar had signed the petition to call for peace and demander her acquittal.


For a full list of all the imprisoned journalists in Turkey, visit this spreadsheet. Lists of all of the foundations and associations as well as media outlets shut down can also be found at the same link, although on different tabs of the same spreadsheet.