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 - 145

Journalists in State of Emergency - 145

Mezopotamya agency reporter Berzan Güneş jailed; custody period for Ece Sevim Öztürk extended; 7 journalists indicted for sharing news story online 


Berzan Güneş, a reporter for the Mezopotamya news agency (MA), was jailed on June 11 by a court in Şırnak on the charge of “conducting propaganda for a terrorist organization” via his social media posts.

Police arrested Güneş during a security check on grounds of an ongoing investigation into the journalist launched by the Iğdır Public Prosecutor’s Office. He gave his defense statement to the Iğdır Criminal Judgeship of Peace through the courtroom video-conferencing system SEGBİS. Afterwards, the judgeship ruled to jail the journalist. This was the second time Güneş had given his statement as part of the same investigation, MA reported.

The judgeship sent Güneş to the Şırnak T Type Prison. Güneş’s camera was also seized.

Custody period for Öztürk extended for another week

The custody period for journalist Ece Sevim Öztürk was extended by a week. Öztürk, the chief editor for the news portal Çağdaş Ses, has been in custody since June 8, when she was arrested during an early morning police raid on her home. Öztürk was detained as part of an investigation by the Istanbul Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office on grounds that she “shared posts on social media in support of FETÖ in the aftermath of the July 15 coup attempt.”

7 journalists indicted for posting news story on social media

Former Dicle news agency (DİHA) news manager Ömer Çelik, reporters Çağdaş Kaplan, Hamza Gündüz, Selman Çiçek, freelance journalist A. Vahap Taş, former Özgür Gündem responsible managing editor İnan Kızılkaya and the newspaper’s publisher Kemal Sancılı are facing charges in a newly issued indictment for sharing a 2016 news story on social media.

The indictment, issued by the Diyarbakır Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office and accepted by the 9th High Criminal Court of Diyarbakır, seeks up to 3 years of imprisonment for each of the seven journalists on the charge of “targeting state officials assigned in the fight against terrorism.” The indictment also seeks an additional prison term between 1 to 5 years for Selman Çiçek on the charge of “conducting propaganda for a terrorist organization” via social media.

“Paradise Papers” trial against Evrensel journalist adjourned 

Journalist Çağrı Sarı, the former responsible managing editor of Evrensel daily, appeared before an Istanbul court on June 13 for the second hearing of a trial in which she is accused of “insult” and “libel” on account of two “Paradise Papers” reports the newspaper published in November 2017.

Sarı faces up to six years in prison in the case, opened 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.

Sarı and Evrensel lawyer Devrim Avcı were present at Wednesday’s hearing at the Bakırköy 2nd Criminal Court of First Instance. P24 monitored the hearing.

Addressing the court, Sarı said that the name of a minister to be cited in the documents had news value, adding that the newspaper has also published the minister’s response to the allegations.

Sarı also said that the indictment accused her of “manipulating opinion” because the articles were published over two days. “In journalism, this is called a follow-up, it’s not manipulating opinion,” Sarı explained. She said the news stories that form the basis of the allegations were part of freedom of the press and freedom of expression, and requested to be acquitted.

Her lawyer Devrim Avcı also said the case was against the right to information. Avcı requested that politicians Aykut Erdoğdu and Filiz Kerestecioğlu testify before the court as witnesses, which the court rejected.

The court adjourned the trial until September 25, 2018.

Alçı, Kütahyalı and Zileli given 105-day prison sentence each

A Turkish court sentenced HaberTürk columnist Nagehan Alçı, former Sabah columnist Rasim Ozan Kütahyalı, and Korkusuz columnist Ümit Zileli to 105-day prison sentences each for their commentary on separate television programs. Alçı wrote about the ruling in her June 13 column in HaberTürk.

The remarks for which the 2nd Criminal Court of First Instance of İzmir found the three columnists guilty were about torture in Diyarbakır Prison during the period between 1980 and 1984 under the administration of Esat Oktay Yıldıran, a military officer appointed to the prison by the Sept. 12, 1980, junta.

Anadolu Agency files compensation case against Enver Aysever

The state-run Anadolu News Agency (AA) filed a lawsuit against journalist Enver Aysever, seeking non-pecuniary damages for Aysever’s comments about the agency on a television program. The agency is seeking TL 5,000 in non-pecuniary damages on grounds that Aysever “violated personal rights of the agency,” according to the indictment Aysever shared on his social media account on June 11.

List of journalists and media workers in prison 

The jailing of Mezopotamya Agency reporter Berzan Güneş brought the number of journalists and media workers in prison in Turkey to at least 180. For a detailed list, click here.