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 - 38

Journalists in State of Emergency - 38

Number of journalists in prison reaches 146 with the arrest of Özgür Gündem’s Kemal Sancılı

Kemal Sancılı, a journalist who owns the rights to the shuttered Özgür Gündem daily, was arrested on Jan. 3 on charges of “membership in a terrorist organization” and “disrupting the unity and integrity of the state.”

Sancılı was detained on Jan. 2 in Urfa province. He will likely be brought to a prison in Istanbul.

With Sancılı’s recent arrest and Ahmet Şık’s arrest on Dec. 30, the total number of journalists in prison, either doing time following a conviction or under arrest pending trial, has reached 146. 

Cumhuriyet reporter Ahmet Şık was put under arrest on Dec. 30. He is charged with spreading propaganda for the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), Revolutionary People's Liberation Party/Front (DHKP-C) and for the Fethullah Gülen group, an Islamic network the Turkish judiciary refers to as the Fethullahist Terrorist Organization (FETÖ). All three groups are outlawed in Turkey.

In a related development, Şık’s lawyers, who filed an objection against his arrest, said they had not been allowed to see their client. Şık is being kept in Silivri Prison Number 9.

Kızılkaya denied transport to hearing

In the ongoing trial against journalists of Özgür Gündem, Managing Editor of the newspaper İnan Kızılkaya, who was scheduled to appear in court on Jan. 2, was not brought to the İstanbul Courthouse from Silivri Prison where he has been kept since August. This is the second time Kızılkaya is denied transportation to the courtroom. Authorities have cited “lack of transportation vehicles” as the reason not to bring Kızılkaya to the trial.

On Jan. 2, the court ruled for the release of three other Özgür Gündem journalists -- novelist Aslı Erdoğan, linguist Necmiye Alpay and Editor-in-Chief Zana Kaya.

The next hearing in the trial will be held on March 14.

Other detentions 

On Jan. 2,  ETHA News Editor responsible for legal liability of the agency’s publications, Derya Okatan, reportedly went on a hunger strike. Okatan was detained on Dec. 25 along with five other journalists, who all reported in detail on a leak regarding the hacked e-mails of Turkey’s Energy Minister Berat Albaryak, who is also the son-in-law of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.

Another ETHA journalist, İsminaz Temel, tweeted on Jan. 1 that she was detained while reporting on the New Year’s massacre that occurred in the Reina nightclub in Istanbul.

Ayşegül Başar, a former intern with the Cumhuriyet daily, who is also a member of the left-wing Halkevleri (People’s Houses) association, was detained on Jan. 2 while publicly making a speech in defense of secularism. Başar still contributes to Cumhuriyet, the newspaper has said.

The manager of Cumhuriyet’s cafeteria, Şenol Buran, who was detained on Dec. 26, on charges of insulting the Turkish president, was released on Jan. 2.

Foreign journalist detained

The Wall Street Journal has reported that its Istanbul reporter, Dion Nissenbaum, was held by police for three days following a report regarding a video released by the Islamic State. He was detained on Dec. 27.

The New York Times has started shielding the identities of local reporters in Turkey. The paper has recently started to use the byline “employee of the New York Times” for the safety of the reporters in the field. The story of the nightclub massacre in Istanbul has appeared with such a byline.

Gag orders; organizations shutdown

On Dec. 30, Turkey shut down another 94 associations on the grounds that they are related with terrorist groups, under a Cabinet decree issued as part of the State of Emergency rules.

The Supreme Board of Radio and Television (RTÜK) on Jan. 1 issued a reporting ban on the nightclub massacre of new year’s eve.