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 on their homes on 25 December 2016 as part of an investigation into the publication of leaked e-mails of former Energy Minister Berat Albayrak, who is also the son-in-law of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.


After remaining in police custody for 24 days, Kanaat and two other journalists, former editor Tunca Öğreten and DİHA news agency editor Ömer Çelik, were jailed pending trial on 17 January 2017 on the chage of "membership in a terrorist organization." The other three journalists were released pending trial.


The authorities accused Kanaat of having downloaded the emails of Albayrak and of “possessing original copies” of investigation reports concerning the “17- 25 December” corruption probe against four ministers from the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP).


In the indictment, issued on 23 June 2017, Kanaat was charged with “membership of a terrorist organization” under Article 314/2 of the Turkish Penal Code (TCK) and “hindrance or destruction of a data processing system” (TCK 244/2 and 244/4). The indictment (in Turkish) can be found here.


The first hearing of the "RedHack trial" took place on 24 October 2017 at the 29th High Criminal Court of Istanbul. The court ruled for Ömer Çelik’s release pending trial and the continuation of Öğreten and Kanaat’s detention. Kanaat and Öğreten were released pending trial at the end of the second hearing, held on 6 December 2017. The court imposed judicial control measures on both journalists, including a ban on traveling abroad.


The 11th hearing of the case was held on 15 December 2020. The court decided to send the case file to the prosecution for the preparation of their final opinion and adjourned the trial. The next hearing is scheduled for 9 July 2021 at the Istanbul 29th High Criminal Court.


European Court of Human Rights judgment


The European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) issued its judgment concerning the applications of Tunca Öğreten and BirGün's Mahir Kanaat on 18 May 2021, finding multiple violations, including the right to liberty and security and freedom of expression. In its Chamber judgment, the European Court unanimously ruled that Kanaat and Öğreten's pre-trial detention for almost a year in 2017 as part of the “RedHack trial” violated their right to liberty and security (Article 5/1 of the European Convention on Human Rights), right to access the investigation file (Article 5/4) and freedom of expression (Article 10).


The ECtHR ruled for a payment of 14,000 euros to each applicant in respect of non-pecuniary damages, and 2,250 euros each in costs and expenses.