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.

Meşale Tolu

Meşale Tolu

Meşale Tolu, a German citizen who works as a reporter and translator for Etkin News Agency (ETHA), was detained during a police raid on her house where she lived with her 2.5-year-old son on 30 April 2017 and subsequently jailed pending trial on 6 May. Police used force against her in front of her son during the raid, Tolu said at her court statement, adding that they also pointed a gun at her son.

Tolu was sent to the Bakırköy Women's Prison along with her son.

The Istanbul Chief Public Prosecutor's Office issued an indictment against Tolu and 17 others in August 2017. The indictment was accepted by the Istanbul 29th High Criminal Court, which set 11-12 October 2017 as the dates for the first hearing of the case. Tolu faces up to 15 years in prison on charges of “terrorism propaganda” and “membership in a terrorist organization.” The accusations against Tolu in the indictment stem from her participation in a march held in 2014 for Suphi Nejat Ağırnaslı, a student from Boğaziçi University who was killed near Kobani while fighting against ISIS; an anti-corruption demonstration organized also in 2014 by the Socialist Party of the Oppressed (ESP) in Istanbul’s Kadıköy district and the funerals of two women, Yeliz Erbay and Şirin Öter, killed during a police raid on a house in Istanbul. Copies of the Marxist Teori magazine found at Tolu's home, and testimony by a secret witness are also held as evidence against her. The secret witness who testified against Tolu claimed that she was "part of the Gazi quarter area structure of the Marxist-Leninist Communist Party [MLKP]."

At the end of the second hearing of the case, held on 18 December 2017, Tolu was released pending trial under judicial control measures after spending more than seven months behind bars. Six other jailed defendants were also released by the court at the same hearing.

Tolu's husband, Suat Çorlu, a member of the central executive board of the Socialist Party of the Oppressed (ESP), was also arrested weeks before her as part of a separate investigation and held in pre-trial detention until his release in November 2017.

The third hearing of the trial was held on 26 April 2018, at the end of which the court ruled to keep the international travel ban on Tolu in place. On 20 August 2018, the court lifted the travel ban for Tolu. The travel ban imposed on her husband, who faces the same charges as part of the same case file, however, remained in place.

On 15 September 2021, one day ahead of the 15th hearing of the case, the prosecutor submitted their final opinion to the court, demanding Tolu's acquittal of all charges due to lack of evidence. The prosecutor requested that the court sentence Suat Çorlu for "terrorism propaganda" while demanding his acquittal of "membership in a terrorist organization" charge.

The next hearing of the trial, when the court is expected to hear the final defense statements of all 23 defendants, is scheduled for 24 December 2021.