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 - 137 

Journalists in State of Emergency - 137 

Jailed journalist İdris Yılmaz faces new investigation; Evrensel journalist Çağrı Sarı stands trial on “slander” charge for “Paradise Papers” reports

Van-based journalist İdris Yılmaz, currently in pretrial detention at the Elazığ Prison, is facing a new investigation, launched following a complaint filed by a contractor who assaulted the journalist last year.

Yılmaz was arrested during a police raid on his apartment in Van on account of a photograph he posted online through his social media account. He was referred to court for detention on “conducting propaganda for a terrorist group” charge. The court jailed Yılmaz on the same charge pending trial and sent him to the Erciş Prison in Van. Yılmaz was later transferred to the Elazığ Maximum Security Prison, where he has been in detention on remand for the past three months.

Yılmaz will appear before a court on “slander” charges as part of the new investigation, launched by the Erciş Chief Public Prosecutor’s office.

After Yılmaz was sent to prison, yet another investigation was launched into Yılmaz following a complaint by the Erciş district governor, but details of the investigation file are undisclosed.

Yılmaz is being held in solitary confinement in the Elazığ Prison.

ETHA editor, reporter jailed on terrorism-related charges 

Etkin news agency (ETHA) editor Semiha Şahin and reporter Pınar Gayıp were jailed pending trial by an Istanbul court on April 19 on “membership in a terrorist organization” and “conducting propaganda for a terrorist organization” charges. This development brought the number of journalists in prison in Turkey to at least 165.

A report on Şahin and Gayıp’s detention can be accessed here.

Up to 15 years in prison sought for Nur Ener Kılınç 

Nur Ener Kılınç, an editor for the Yeni Asya newspaper, currently in house arrest, appeared before the Istanbul 26th High Criminal Court on April 19 at the latest hearing of her trial on the accusation of “membership in a terrorist organization.” The prosecutor submitted his final opinion, requesting Kılınç is sentenced to between 7.5 and 15 years in prison on the same charge.

A report on the hearing can be accessed here.

Koray Çalışkan handed down prison sentence for tweets 

An Istanbul court on April 19 handed down academic and columnist Koray Çalışkan a prison sentence of 1 year, 6 months and 22 days on the charge of “conducting propaganda for a terrorist organization.”

The accusation against Çalışkan in the trial, overseen by the 24th High Criminal Court of Istanbul, was based on his social media posts on Twitter, in which he was said to conduct propaganda in favor of the “Fethullahist Terrorist Organization/Parallel State Structure (FETÖ/PDY).”

Judicial control measures imposed on Güreş, Aybey lifted

Gaziantep-based journalist Murat Güreş and two other local journalists, Furkan Gökşen and Metin Aybey, appeared before a local court on April 19 on the charge of “breaching the confidentiality of an investigation” by reporting about the contents of the statement an influential local businessperson gave to a prosecutor. The court ruled to lift all judicial control measures on the journalists and adjourned the trial until September 27, 2018.

A detailed report on the hearing, monitored by P24 in the courtroom, can be accessed here.

First hearing held in “Paradise Papers” trial against Evrensel 

The first hearing of a trial against Çağrı Sarı, the former responsible managing editor of Evrensel daily, in which she faces up to six years in prison on “insult” and “slander” charges for publishing two news stories about “Paradise Papers” in November 2017, was held on April 18 at the Bakırköy 2nd Criminal court of First Instance.

The court had recently accepted the 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.

Evrensel lawyer Devrim Avcı and the Albayraks’ lawyer Hatice Özay were in attendance at the April 18 hearing, during which the court accepted Özay’s request to represent the Albayrak brothers in the trial, and set June 13 as the date of the next hearing.

Özgür Gündem solidarity trial adjourned until October

The fifth hearing in the trial against human rights defender and academic Şebnem Korur Financı, Reporters Without Borders’ (RSF) Turkey Representative Erol Önderoğlu and mathematician and writer Ahmet Nesin for engaging in a solidarity campaign for the shuttered daily Özgür Gündem was held on April 18 at the 13th High Criminal Court of Istanbul. The trial was adjourned until October.

A report on the hearing, monitored in the courtroom by P24, can be accessed here.

Other freedom of speech cases of the past week 

Ayşe Çelik, a school teacher who was convicted of “conducting propaganda for a terrorist organization” in April 2017 for her remarks on a live TV show in 2015, was sent to prison with her baby daughter in the southeastern province of Diyarbakır on April 20 after her request for an additional period of delay had been rejected.

Seven academics who signed 2016’s Academics for Peace declaration appeared in the second and first hearings of the respective trials against them on April 19 at the Istanbul Courthouse in Çağlayan. The academics are accused of “conducting propaganda for a terrorist organization” for having signed the said declaration. Academics Canay Şahin, Emin Alper, Kerem Eksen and Ozan Çağlayan gave their statements to their respective trial courts, which adjourned all four trials to October 2. The rest of the academics, Burcu Kaya, Z.Y. and Kuban Altınel, were appearing in their first hearings. The court adjourned these trials until June 28.

An Izmir court on April 17 handed down musician Suavi Saygan a prison sentence of 11 months and 20 days for “insulting the president” in a public speech he delivered during an event in Izmir on October 29, 2016. The Izmir 33rd Criminal Court of First Instance then commuted Saygan’s sentence to a legal fine of TL 14,000.

On April 19, Veysi Altay, the director of a documentary titled Nû Jîn, and Dicle Anter, who had the film shown at the Yılmaz Güney Theater, appeared in the first hearing of a trial against them on charges of “conducting propaganda for a terrorist organization.” The charges stem from the documentary. The 2nd High Criminal Court of Batman adjourned the trial until June 19.

The fourth hearing of a trial in which documentarist, video-activist and journalist Kazım Kızıl stands accused of “insulting the president” in his social media posts as well as violating the Demonstrations and Protest Marches Law, was held on April 16 in Izmir. The İzmir 33rd Criminal Court of First Instance set June 4, 2018, as the date of the next hearing.

The first hearing of a criminal case against Ferhat Tunç in which the musician is accused of “inciting the public to hatred and animosity” on account of a Twitter message he posted on April 16, 2017, was held on April 18 in Istanbul. Tunç did not attend the hearing due to his sibling’s passing. The Büyükçekmece 4th Criminal Court of First Instance adjourned the trial until July 6, 2018.

On April 18, the deputy chairman of Turkey’s Labour Party (EMEP), Mehmet Türkmen, was released from pretrial detention and placed on house arrest by the 8th High Criminal Court of Gaziantep, where the politician is on trial on the charge of “conducting propaganda for a terrorist organization” on account of his social media posts critical of Turkey’s military operation on Syria’s Afrin. The court set July 5 as the date of the third hearing.

Also on April 18, an Eskişehir-based member of EMEP, Sinan Niron, was convicted of “conducting propaganda for a terrorist organization.” Niron had been arrested on January 31 on account of his social media posts concerning Turkey’s Afrin operation. He was later jailed pending trial. Niron was handed down a sentence of 1 year and 6 months in prison. The court deferred the sentence and Niron was released from prison.



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.