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.

Regional court upholds convictions in Büyükada trial

Regional court upholds convictions in Büyükada trial

HRDs Taner Kılıç, Günal Kurşun, İdil Eser and Özlem Dalkıran were convicted of "terror" charges at the final hearing of the trial, which concluded in July


The 3rd Criminal Chamber of the Istanbul Regional Court of Justice upheld the convictions of human rights defenders Taner Kılıç, Günal Kurşun, İdil Eser and Özlem Dalkıran on terror charges in the “Büyükada trial,” finding the lower court’s judgment lawful. In its unanimous ruling dated 26 November 2020, the regional court also rejected the appeal by the prosecutor against the acquittals of Nejat Taştan and Veli Acu.


The full text of the Regional Court of Justice judgment (in Turkish) can be accessed here


Eleven rights defenders stood trial in the case, which was overseen by the Istanbul 35th High Criminal Court. At the 13th and final hearing of the “Büyükada trial,” held on 3 July 2020, Amnesty Turkey’s Honorary Chair Kılıç was sentenced to 6 years and 3 months in prison for “membership of a terrorist organization” while his co-defendants Dalkıran, Eser and Kurşun were each sentenced to 1 year and 13 months for “aiding a terrorist organization without being its member.” The rest of the defendants, Ali Gharavi, Nejat Taştan, Veli Acu, İlknur Üstün, Nalan Erkem, Peter Frank Steudtner and Muhammed Şeyhmus Özbekli were acquitted. In his dissenting opinion, one of the judges on the panel wrote that Kılıç, Kurşun, Eser and Dalkıran should have been acquitted, considering the alleged crime was not proven.


The prosecution that dragged on for three years began when Kılıç, who was the chair of Amnesty Turkey, was arrested in Izmir on 6 June 2017. A month later, 10 rights defenders were arrested in a hotel on the island of Büyükada in Istanbul while attending a workshop on digital security on 5 July 2017. Eight of the rights defenders, İdil Eser, Günal Kurşun, Özlem Dalkıran, Veli Acu, Ali Gharavi, Peter Steudtner, Nalan Erkem and İlknur Üstün, spent 99 days behind bars while Kılıç spent 432 days in pre-trial detention as part of the case.