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 - 93

Journalists in State of Emergency - 93

Columnist and publications coordinator Kadri Gürsel released in Cumhuriyet trial


Journalist Kadri Gürsel was released in the third hearing of the Cumhuriyet trial on September 25, heard by the Istanbul 27th High Criminal Court.

The court ruled to keep Editor-in-Chief Murat Sabuncu, executive and lawyer Akın Atalay, accountant Emre İper and reporter Ahmet Şık in pre-trial detention. A sixth defendant, Ahmet Kemal Aydoğdu who is not a Cumhuriyet employee, also remained in prison.

The trial was adjourned until Oct. 31.

Witnesses Fatih Aytuğ, Rıza Zelyut and Alev Coşkun were heard in the third trial. Another witness who was exp, Mehmet Faraç, a former Cumhuriyet editor, did not attend the trial.

Aytuğ’s testimony was related to messages allegedly tweeted by Ahmet Kemal Aydoğdu using the account @jeansbiri.

Alev Coşkun, a former Cumhuriyet board member, in his testimony described the trial he had initiated against the new board members of Cumhuriyet.

Coşkun said he was against the arrests, adding that people with whom who’d worked for 22 years cannot be tried as “terrorists.”

“I’ve known these people for 22 years, I know their past. These people can’t be terrorists, they cannot be FETÖ supporters,” he said referring to the acronym used by Turkish authorities to refer to the group which allegedly orchestrated last year’s coup attempt.

“What on earth is Turhan Günay doing here?” Coşkun said at some point in his testimony. Günay, who was released earlier in the trial, is the editor-in-chief of the newspaper’s literary supplement. “I am here thanks to you,” Turhan Günay replied

During the cross-examination by lawyers, Coşkun sounded less apologetic, saying the former executives were right in litigating against the newspaper. “This is Atatürk’s newspaper. This newspaper has its fundamental principles such as loyalty to Atatürk and Cumhuriyet. This is not a newspaper where you can bring a terror group to the head of the table.”

Rıza Zelyut, a columnist who has never worked for Cumhuriyet, said in his testimony that “some circles have used the foundation to seize the Cumhuriyet newspaper.”

“Who did this? Whoever hired Nuray Mert, Can Dündar and Aydın Engin did this,” Zelyut said; naming journalists and columnists who are known for their liberal views.

“I was hired in 1992 by İlhan Selçuk,” Aydın Engin replied, referring to Cumhuriyet's widely respected chief columnist for two decades who passed away in 2010.

Zelyut said there were too many stories about the pro-Kurdish People’s Democratic Party (HDP) and its leader Selahattin Demirtaş on the newspaper’s website.

The prosecutor then demanded that all of the defendants remain in pre-trial detention.

Gürsel, who spoke after the prosecutor expressed his demands, requested his release saying none of the rationales provided by the prosecution for the continued detention apply to him.

Ahmet Şık, Murat Sabuncu and Emre İper said they had no demands from the court.

In its interim ruling, the court released Gürsel and also filed a criminal complaint against the pro-government Akşam and Star newspapers, which both tweeted prematurely -- prior to the court’s announcement of the ruling -- that all six defendants would remain in prison.

The number of journalists in prison remained as 170, as P24 updated its list to include photo-journalist Ömer Sezgin, whose arrest in May had not previously been recorded. The full list of imprisoned journalists can be found here.

Turkish journalist detained in Malaysia

Journalist Mustafa Akyol was detained on Sept. 25 on charges of “conducting religious studies in violation of Sharia laws”, in Malaysia.

The journalist was going to make a presentation on the mutual aspects of Judaism, Christianity and Islam.

He was released after 18 hours in custody. The journalist reportedly left the country and the forum where he was scheduled to speak was canceled.

RTÜK introduces sanctions against Iraqi Kurdish stations

The Supreme Board of Radio and Television (RTÜK) issued an order for television networks based in the Iraqi Kurdistan, which use the Turksat satellite platform, to be taken off air.

RTÜK’s decision came when the Kurdistan Regional Government held a referendum for independence of the region. Rudaw TV, Kurdistan24 TV and Waar Tv’ were taken off the Turksat satellite platform.


Click here to view the list in a spreadsheet file; where figures on shuttered media and civil society associations are also available on separate tabs.