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 - 36

Journalists in State of Emergency - 36

Writer Aslı Erdoğan and linguist Necmiye Alpay to appear before court on Dec. 29 at 9:15 am

Writer Aslı Erdoğan and Necmiye Alpay, who were arrested in August for acting as advisors to the shuttered Özgür Gündem daily, will appear before a judge for the first time on Dec. 29.

Erdoğan has been imprisoned for 131 days, and Alpay for 119 days.

There are seven defendants in the case along with Erdoğan and Alpay. Özgür Gündem’s Managing Editor İnan Kızılkaya and Editor-in-Chief Zana Kaya will also make their initial court appearance in the same trial. Both have been imprisoned since August.

Özcan Kılıç, a lawyer for the Özgür Gündem journalists, told DW Turkish that Erdoğan concentrated on preparing her defense statement over the past few weeks. Erdoğan’s mother told DW Turkish that her daughter was struggling with serious health problems. “We have to stand strong during this trial, we have no choice,” she said.

The other defendants in the case who were released pending trial are Özgür Gündem’s rights owner Kemal Sancılı, newspaper executive Bilge Aykut, journalist Ragıp Zarakolu and former editors-in-chief Eren Keskin and Filiz Koçali.

All nine are accused of “membership in a terrorist organization” and “attempting to overthrow the constitutional order.” The prosecutor demands aggravated life sentences for the nine journalists.

ANF has reported that  Attorney Kılıç, who represents the defendants in the trial, said defense statements for the four imprisoned journalists are ready to be presented to the court. “The defense is based on freedom of the press. Additionally, that Özgür Gündem is not a ‘publication of a terrorist organization’ will be explained in court. Our defendants will explain in tomorrow’s hearing in detail that informing the public and expressing one’s views in no way amount to a crime.”

Kılıç also said that the court issued a warrant to bring former Editor-in-Chief Eren Keskin by force to the hearing. He said that Keskin will attend the trial to present her defense statement.

The hearing will be held at the İstanbul Courthouse in Çağlayan at 9:15 am.

Dec. 29 trial of Sur arrestees

Forty people, including DİHA reporter Mazlum Dolan, will appear before a judge in Diyarbakır also on Dec. 29. The defendants, 32 of whom are in prison, were arrested in February in the Sur district of Diyarbakır during a curfew in the city to allow security forces to conduct operations in the area.

They stand accused of “membership in a terrorist organization,” “propagating for a terrorist organization” and “violating the law on meetings and demonstrations.”

DİHA reporter Dolan has been imprisoned since Feb. 23.

İştar Gözaydın put under arrest

Academic İştar Gözaydın was put under arrest on Dec. 27, about a week after her detention as a suspect in an investigation in İzmir into the Fethullah Gülen network, which the Turkish government accuses of being behind the coup attempt of July 15. Gözaydın was arrested by court order on charges of “membership in a terrorist organization.”

Journalists who reported hacking scandal not allowed to see lawyers

ETHA on Dec. 28 reported that six journalists who were detained possibly over news reports regarding the hacked emails of Energy Minister Berat Albayrak, who is also the son-in-law of President Recap Tayyip Erdoğan, are not being allowed to see their lawyers.

On Dec. 25 journalist Derya Okatan, DİHA Newsroom Editor Ömer Çelik, DİHA reporter Metin Yoksu, former Diken editor Tunca Öğreten, Birgün employee Mahir Kanat and Yolculuk newspaper Managing Editor Eray Saigon were arrested possibly on charges regarding the Albayrak hack, although no official reason was cited.

Journalist acquitted in Tahir Elçi footage trial

Cumhuriyet reporter Mahmut Oral was acquitted on charges of “propagating for a terrorist organization” on Dec. 27 in a trial regarding images about the assassination of Tahir Eli, head of the Diyarbakır Bar Association who was shot dead on Nov. 28, 2015. The trial was based on a complaint filed by a police officer against Oral, stating that he was visible in the pictures

Freelancer released after detention

Niğde journalist Gökhan Özbek, who was taken into custody on Dec. 26 on charges of insulting the president was released on Dec. 27. His detention came on the same day a column targeting him was published in a pro-government newspaper.

Cumhuriyet journalists petition Constitutional Court

Nine writers and executives of the Cumhuriyet newspaper have individually petitioned the Constitutional Court, claiming that the principles of “individual safety and freedom” and “freedom of expression and freedom of the press” had been violated in their incarceration. The journalists have argued that their detention and later arrest was in violation of Article 18 of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR), which guarantees that restrictions allowed under the convention to rights and freedoms are not “applied for any purpose other than those for which they have been prescribed.”

High court rules for retrial in journalist assassinations

On Dec. 27, the Constitutional Court ruled for the retrial of three suspects -- Hasan Kılıç, Mehmet Şahin and Yusuf Karakuş -- who were convicted in relation to the 1993 murder of journalist Uğur Mumcu, 1990 murders of academic Bahriye Üçok and politician Muammer Aksoy and the 1999 murder of journalist Ahmet Taner Kışlalı.

The murders are among at least 39 assassinations, committed in the 1990s in Turkey; referred to as “unsolved murders”. It is widely suspected that these were state-sponsored assassinations.