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 stand trial for coverage of refugee crisis near Greek border

Journalists stand trial for coverage of refugee crisis near Greek border

Trial of Mezopotamya Agency reporters İdris Sayılğan and Naci Kaya on charge of “illegally entering into a military zone” adjourned until 27 January 2021


Mezopotamya Agency reporters İdris Sayılğan and Naci Kaya, who were briefly detained in Edirne while following a refugee crisis near the border with Greece in February and were later charged with "entering a military forbidden zone," appeared before an Edirne court on 8 October 2020 at the first hearing in their trial.

Sayılğan and Kaya attended the court hearing through judicial videoconferencing system SEGBİS from the Istanbul 53rd Criminal Court of First Instance. At the hearing followed by P24 from the Istanbul court, the journalists said they went to the border to cover the developments near the border and that there was no indication that they were in a military restricted zone.

“We were there as journalists”

Presenting his defense statement to the court, Sayılğan denied accusations of wrongdoing and demanded his acquittal. About 100,000 refugees flocked to the border areas after the government announced on 28 February that the border would be open, he told the court. “We went there as journalists. There were many refugees where we were. There was no way of knowing that that location was a military zone,” he said, adding that there were also many other journalists in the same area. “We took a few pictures and then soldiers came and we were detained,” he said.

Addressing the court after Sayılğan, Kaya also denied accusations of illegal entry, saying they passed through at least two security checkpoints before they arrived at the location where they were eventually detained. “There was no sign indicating that the area was a forbidden military zone and we were there solely to report on developments as journalists,” he said. Kaya also said there were other journalists in the area but they were the only ones who were detained.

Following the defendants’ statements, lawyer Özcan Kılıç requested the court to acquit his clients of all charges on the grounds that no offence had been committed. Lawyer Sercan Korkmaz highlighted discrepancies between the indictment and the report filed by the soldiers who took the two journalists into custody. “The report says they were detained for taking pictures in a restricted zone while the indictment says they illegally entered into a forbidden military zone,” he said.

The court decided to hear the soldiers who took Sayılğan and Kaya back in February and adjourned the hearing to 27 January 2021.