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.

Mahir Kanaat

Mahir Kanaat

Police arrested Mahir Kanaat, an employee of the left-wing Birgün daily, and five other journalists in dawn raids of their homes on December 25, 2016 as part of an investigation into publication of leaked e-mails of Berat Albayrak, Turkey’s energy minister and the son-in-law of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.

Kanaat and two others, former Diken news website editor Tunca Öğreten and DİHA news agency Diyarbakır news editor Ömer Çelik, were jailed pending trial by a court on January 17, 2017, 24 days after they were first arrested. The other three journalists were released pending trial on judicial control.

The indictment charges Kanaat with “membership in a terrorist organization” and “preventing an information system, disrupting it, obscuring or destroying data.”

The prosecution claims that versions of investigation documents regarding the 17-25 December 2013 corruption probe into the government that were formed before the date of the operation, which the prosecution says is proof that he was member of the FETÖ/PDY armed organization and that he performed several duties for this group.

The indictment into the six journalists can be found here (in Turkish).

The first hearing of the trial into the six journalists took place at the 29th High Criminal Court of Istanbul on 24 October 2017. The court ruled for Ömer Çelik’s release pending trial and the continuation of Öğreten and Kanaat’s detentions.

Kanaat and Öğreten were released pending the conclusion of the trial at the end of the second hearing, on 6 December 2017. The court imposed judicial control measures on both journalists, including international travel bans.

The next hearing in the case was held on 20 March 2018. Öğreten, Kanaat, Okatan and the defense lawyers were in attendance at the hearing, monitored by P24.

Announcing its interim decision at the end of the hearing, the court decided to keep an international travel ban on all defendants in place, while lifting a judicial control measure under which Öğreten and Kanaat had been required to regularly report to a police station toggle their signatures. The trial was adjourned until 13 September 2018, awaiting an expert report on digital materials confiscated from the defendants.

Kanaat, Öğreten, Okatan and Sargın and their lawyers were in attendance at the hearing on 13 September, while Çelik and Yoksu did not attend.

Defense lawyer Sevgi Kalan Güvercin, who is representing Kanaat and Öğreten, demanded that the judicial control measures imposed on the defendants be lifted.

The prosecutor said it was not clear in the case file whether forensic images from digital equipment have been taken or not, and demanded that the court reject those requests.

Issuing an interim ruling following a brief recess, the court rejected the defendants’ requests and ordered for Yoksu and Çelik to be brought before the court for the next hearing and adjourned the trial until 8 January 2019.

Kanaat, Öğreten, Okatan and their lawyers were in attendance at the 8 January hearing, during which Çelik and Yoksu addressed the court via SEGBİS.

The prosecution requested the continuation of the judicial control measures imposed on the journalists. Addressing the court following the prosecutor, the journalists requested for their digital equipment confiscated during the investigation to be returned, their international travel ban to be lifted, and to be granted exemption from personal attendance in court.

In its interim ruling at the end of the hearing, the court rejected the requests and adjourned the trial until 16 April 2019, awaiting an expert report concerning the digital equipment.