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 – 73

Journalists in State of Emergency – 73

Rights defenders are to be kept in police custody for another week. Academic Koray Çalışkan detained. Number of journalists in jail falls to 165 as Kazım Kızıl released on judicial control


Authorities extended the detention period on July 11 for a group of human rights defenders who were taken into custody on July 5 in Istanbul for another seven days on the request of Prosecutor Can Tuncay.

Amnesty International Turkey Director İdil Aser and Veli Acu from the same organization; Nalan Erkem and Özlem Dalkıran from the Helsinki Citizens’ Assembly; İlknur Üstün from the Women’s Coalition; Nejat Taştan from the Association for Monitoring Equal Rights (AMER), Şeyhmus Özbekli from the Rights Initiative, information security consultants Ali Garawi and Peter Steudtner were taken into custody during a digital security training. The activists are accused of “membership in a terrorism organization.” Pro-government media has accused them of “plotting against the government.”

The detention of human rights defenders is deemed to be one of the most massive free speech issues in Turkey in the recent period. Their detention will therefore be monitored as part of the Journalists in State of Emergency logs.

Academic-writer Çalışkan detained

Police took academic and columnist Koray Çalışkan into custody during a dawn raid on his home on July 10.

According to media reports, Çalışkan was detained as part of an investigation into the “academic arm” of the organization referred to as the “Fethullahist Terrorist Organization/Parallel State Structure (FETÖ/PDY)” along with 41 others. A total of 71 arrest warrants were issued in the investigation, according to media reports.

The CNN Türk news station has reported that Çalışkan was detained for having had frequent phone conversations with the president of the Foundation of Journalists and Writers (GYV), Cemal Uşşak, who died abroad after a battle with cancer in 2016. GYV was shut down after the 15 July coup attempt under an emergency decree.

Journalist Kazım Kızıl released from prison

Documentarist and journalist Kazım Kızıl, who was first taken into custody and then placed in pre-trial detention by court order in İzmir while reporting on protests that erupted after the April 16 constitutional referendum, was released from prison on July 10 under judicial control measures.

Kızıl was first detained by police on April 17 on suspicion of violation Law No. 2911 on Assembly and Protest Marches, but later accused of having insulted President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in his tweets. An indictment into Kızıl seeks seven years of imprisonment for the journalist.

In the first session of the trial heard by the İzmir 33rd Criminal Court of First Instance, Kızıl said he was at the protest site as a reporter and that he was conducting journalist work. In response to the allegations that he insulted the president, Kızıl said his tweets fell under the scope of freedom of speech and none of his posts made a call to violence or included phrases that could be considered hate speech.

Meanwhile, bailiffs seized the mobile phone of academic Zafer Yörük, who was among the audience during the hearing, on the grounds that he was paying too much attention to it in the courtroom. Yörük was removed from the courtroom and taken into custody after he objected to the seizure. He was later released.

The number of journalists in prison has fallen to 165 following Kızıl’s release. The full list can be viewed here.

Özgürlükçü Demokrasi employee taken by police

Mersin police on July 10 took Özgürlükçü Demokrasi employee Umut Ak into custody.

Ak was detained in the Toroslar district of Mersin and is reportedly an epilepsy sufferer. No official reason was offered for his detention.

Ahmet Altan insult trial concluded

On July 11, an Istanbul court concluded an “insult” trial against journalist and novelist Ahmet Altan, ruling to suspend the prosecution.

Altan, who was been in in Silivri Prison since September 23 as part of another case, attended the session via the judicial teleconferencing system SEGBİS. Altan was indicted with insulting members of the Board of Judges and Prosecutors (HSYK) in a 2010 article.

Veysel Ok, the legal counsel representing Altan, asked for the release of his client.

The İstanbul Anadolu 2nd Criminal Court of First Instance ruled to suspend the trial; which means that if Altan doesn’t commit the same crime described in the relevant law for consecutive three years, the probe will be dropped. If he does however, the investigation will resume.

For lists of journalists or press workers in Turkish prisons serving a conviction or awaiting trial and media institutions, foundations and associations closed down under the State of Emergency, click here.