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 - 70

Journalists in State of Emergency - 70

Indictment into six journalists accused of links with RedHack and reporting on leaked e-mails of Berat Albayrak submitted to court


On 29 June, an indictment into BirGün employee Mahir Kanaat, Dicle News Agency (DİHA) News Editor Ömer Çelik, former Diken editor Tunca Öğreten, DİHA reporter Metin Yoksu, ETHA Managing Editor Derya Okatan and owner of the copyrights to Yolculuk newspaper Eray Saygın, was submitted to a court.

According to BirGün’s report, the indictment was submitted to the İstanbul 29th High Criminal Court. Ali Deniz Ceylan, a lawyer representing BirGün’s Kanaat said they didn’t have detailed information about the content of the indictment. He said detailed information would be available once the indictment is accepted by the court.

The six journalists were taken into police custody on Dec. 25, 2016 on charges of reporting on e-mails of Turkish Energy Minister Berat Albayrak which were hacked by a group that calls itself RedHack and as such being a part of a “psychological operation to form public perceptions” by RedHack. Yoksun, Okatan and Sezgin were released after 24 days in custody while Kanaat, Çelik and Öğreten were put under formal arrest.

The case of a seventh journalist, Deniz Yücel from Die Welt, who was also taken into custody initially as part of the same investigation was separated from the RedHack investigation. Yücel is now facing charges of “conducting terrorist propaganda” and “inciting the public to hatred and hostility,” although no indictment has so far been prepared for the journalist who has been behind bars since Feb. 27, 2017.

BBC reporter deported at İstanbul Airport

Jiyar Gol, a reporter for BBC World, tweeted on June 30 that he had been deported from Istanbul Airport after five hours in custody. According to the tweet, Gol was detained and later expelled from the country on June 29. Gol said he was interrogated by police while he was kept in custody.

Higher court upholds prison term for journalist Eskin

A Gaziantep court on June 29 upheld a three-years, one-month and 15-days prison sentence handed down to journalist İsmail Eskin due to his social media posts.

The Diyarbakır 4th High Criminal Court had handed down the prison sentence for “conducting propaganda on behalf of a terrorist organization” in his statements tweeted during a curfew announced in the predominantly Kurdish populated Diyarbakır province and also during ISIS attacks on the Syrian Kurdish town of Kobane.

The Regional Court, which was reviewing an appeal against the ruling upheld the Diyabakır court’s decision, said no violations of law had occurred.

Columnist leaves pro-government newspaper over “censorship”

Lütfü Oflaz, a columnist with the daily Star newspaper, which is aligned with the Justice and Development Party (AKP) government, announced on June 29 that he had left his newspaper after editors refused to publish one of his columns.

Oflaz, who had been with the daily for over a year, said he had taken the decision to leave after the newspaper refused to publish his latest column titled “My conscience hasn’t left me.”

The article criticized the crackdown on journalists and the media. In the column, Oflaz wrote, “I am disturbed by the fact that many of my colleagues that I’ve known as journalists from Murat Sabuncu to Turhan Günay, from Musa Kart to Kadri Gürsel. I am disturbed by the pressure on the media from the Cumhuriyet newspaper to Sözcü.”

Oflaz later said in an interview with Editor-in-Chief of the Yeni Asya daily that a second column he had written to formally address his readers about his parting had also been censored.

Jagland: Jailed journalists and MPs are CoE priority

Thorbjørn Jagland, the secretary-general of the Council of Europe, said in reference to the arrests in Turkey that journalists and members of the Parliament are priority groups for the Council of Europe.

Jagland’s remarks came in response to a question by pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) deputy Chairperson Filiz Kerestecioğlu. Kerestecioğlu asked Jagland on the first day of the Parliamentarian Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) Summer Session on June 28 if any steps were taken concerning the jailed members of the Turkish Parliament.

In response, Jagland said: “We are aware that there have been many appeals to the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) on this first issue. The court has launched initiatives for the journalists. Of course, I can’t speak about the legal procedure for the deputies, but members of parliament and journalists are priority groups for the Council of Europe.”

Turhan Günay nominated for IPA Prix Voltaire award

On June 28, the International Publishers Association announced the shortlist for the 2017 IPA Prix Voltaire award, which “rewards exemplary courage in upholding the freedom to publish and in enabling others to exercise their right to freedom of expression,” according to IPA.

Among the shortlisted are jailed Cumhuriyet journalist Turhan Günay -- who was imprisoned in November 2016 -- and the Evrensel Publishing House, which was shut down by a government decree.

Others on the shortlist are: Minhai, Gui (Sweden) Kim, Jeong-ae (North Korea / South Korea)

Parsapour, Azadeh (Iran / UK) and Way, Moe (Myanmar).

The prize winner will be announced on Sept. 29, 2017 in Sweden.


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