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 - 60

Journalists in State of Emergency - 60

On May 5, a court ruled to arrest Etkin News Agency (ETHA) translator Meşale Tolu Kartal and ETHA reporter Ömer Ulaş Sezgin.

The two were detained on April 30 in police operations ahead of planned May Day protests.

Their reason for arrest was not immediately clear. The total number of journalists or press workers in Turkish prisons serving a conviction or awaiting trial under arrest has reached 165. The full list can be viewed here.

Cumhuriyet reporter handed down prison sentence

Canan Coşkun, a Cumhuriyet reporter was given a 10 month prison sentence in connection with a news report about a court case in Şanlıurfa, where nine suspects are accused of supplying weapons to the Islamic State in Syria. One of the suspects in the case had accused another one of having links to the Turkish National Intelligence Agency (MİT). For this story, Coşkun was tried on charges of “insulting the agencies of the Republic of Turkey.”

The verdict trial was heard on May 9 by the İstanbul 2nd Court of First Instance. The court has suspended the prison term, which means Coşkun will not be physically imprisoned. editor given one year and three months suspended sentence

On May 6, Istanbul 14th High Criminal Court handed down a prison sentence of one year and three months to Ali Ergin Demirhan, an editor with the critical news website, on charges of “spreading propaganda on behalf of a terrorist organization.” The court also ruled to suspend Demirhan’s sentence.

The court’s ruling was based on a news report published in December 2015 in Halkın Sesi, a publication owned by Demirhan, which covered the alleged human rights abuses committed against civilians by Turkish security forces in Diyarbakır’s Sur and Cizre’s Şırnak districts.

Prosecutor seeks up to 13 years in Özgür Gündem trial

On May 9, a prosecutor demanded a total of 46 years in prison for five journalists who supported the shuttered Özgür Gündem daily by standing in as an editor-in-chief for one day, a symbolic act of solidarity.

Ayşe Düzkan, Hüseyin Aykol, Mehmet Ali Çelebi, Hüseyin Bektaş and Ragıp Duran appeared before the İstanbul 13th High Criminal Court on May 10.

The prosecution seeks three years for Aykol, the co-editor-in-chief of Özgür Gündem, for three years for defaming those who are part of counterterrorism efforts and additional 13 years for “spreading propaganda for a terror organization.” The prosecutor demanded seven and a half years for the remaining journalists. The trial was adjourned until June 21.

Fourth hearing in “Taraf” case

The fourth hearing of a court case against former journalists of the shuttered Taraf daily, launched in relation to the publication of military documents several years ago, was held on May 10 at the Istanbul 13th High Criminal Court.

The documents in question, titled the Egemen Operation Plan -- although more commonly known by the public to be concerning documents about the Balyoz (Sledgehammer) coup plan, concern outdated war plans against Greece.

The court rejected a request from the lawyer of former Taraf reporter Mehmet Baransu, who was imprisoned pending trial at the start of investigation in March 2015, for his release. It also rejected a request from some 31 people, including defendants in the Balyoz trial, to be co-plaintiffs in the case against former Taraf journalists.

The court also agreed to ask the administration of Silivri Prison, where Baransu is held, to provide space and sufficient time for Baransu to prepare his defense.

The next hearing in the case will be held on September 13, 2017.

Journalists and former Taraf executives Ahmet Altan, Yasemin Çongar, and Yıldıray Oğur face a possible jail term of 52 years and six months on charges of “destroying documents pertaining to the security of state, using them beyond their purpose, stealing them by deception, acquiring documents relating to the security of the state and exposing documents that is to be kept confidential for reasons relating to the security and political interests of the state.” Baransu and Tuncay Opçin, another defendant in the same case who remains at large, face the additional charges of “leading a terrorist organization” and a possible imprisonment of up to 75 years.

Armed attack on local newspaper

On May 6, unknown assailants fired shots at the office of Yeni Marmara, a local Bursa newspaper. The attack took place at 9:25 pm. The assailant fired several shots towards the office door and fled. Police are investigating the incident.

MİT trucks trial

On May 8, the İstanbul 14th High Criminal Court heard the scheduled session in the trial against former Cumhuriyet Editor-in-Chief Can Dündar, the newspaper’s Ankara Bureau Chief Erdem Gül and Republican People’s Party (CHP) deputy Enis Berberoğlu where the suspects stand accused of “aiding a terrorist organization without being a member of it” in relation with a news story that suggested that the Turkish intelligence agency MİT shipped weapons to jihadi groups in Syria.

The court heard arguments from the lawyer of Berberoğlu. The trial was adjourned until May 24.

French journalist detained in Batman

A French journalist was detained in Batman province on May 7. Mathias Depardon, a French photographer and documentary maker, was detained by authorities while working on a project regarding the ill-fated Hasankeyf ruins. 

İHD free speech awards

On May 9, the Human Rights Association (IHD) Istanbul branch announced the recipients of its freedom of speech awards given annually in honor of the late publisher and human rights activist Ayşe Nur Zarakolu. Eight awards were given this year to imprisoned journalists Kadri Gürsel, İnan Kızılkaya, Ahmet Altan, and Mehmet Altan, the imprisoned head of İHD’s Mersin branch Ali Tanrıverdi and imprisoned Democratic Party of the Peoples (HDP) co-chair Figen Yüksekdağ, the slain journalist Nujiyan Erhan, the Belge Publishing House and the Confederation of Public Workers’ Union (KESK) on behalf of civil servants expelled from their jobs under State of Emergency decrees.

For a full list of journalists or press workers in Turkish prisons serving a conviction or awaiting trial under arrest click here.