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.

Seyhan Avşar

Seyhan Avşar

Two lawsuits were filed against Cumhuriyet reporter Seyhan Avşar for her reporting.


The Istanbul Chief Public Prosecutor's Office launched an investigation against Avşar for her article on the prosecutor of the Sözcü trial, published in Cumhuriyet newspaper on 6 March 2019.


The investigation against Avşar, who wrote that the prosecutor, who prepared the first indictment of the trial against the writers and directors of Sözcü newspaper, had been tried before and continued his duty as a prosecutor despite his finalized sentence, rapidly completed. As a result of the investigation, the Press Crimes Investigation Bureau of the Istanbul Chief Public Prosecutor's Office issued an indictment on 12 July 2019, and asked for Avşar’s conviction for "targeting a public official who took part in the fight against terrorism." The Istanbul 29th High Criminal Court accepted the indictment.


The first hearing of the case took place on 9 January 2020. In her defense, Avşar stated that she is on the defendant chair due to her professional activities, and said, "This indictment is intended to say to us journalists that we can be prosecuted for our news, but you cannot report on a prosecutor who is proven to have committed a crime with a final court decision." Avşar stated that he was targeted by a newspaper close to the government after making the news about the trial. Saying that she had been indicted on the charge of "insult", Avşar said, "However, later the indictment was changed and a second indictment was prepared in which I was charged with the law article in the newspaper which states that I can be tried with the article of the Anti-Terror Law."


In the third hearing held on 7 October 2020, the court decided to send the case file to the prosecutor to prepare its final on accusations.


The next hearing of the trial will be held on 11 March 2021.


“Insulting a public official” charge


An investigation was launched against Avşar this time with the charge of "insulting a public official" due to her news reports titled "Is that a FETÖ stock exchange" (17 March 2019) and "Bribery scheme in the FETÖ stock exchange" (22 March 2019) published in Cumhuriyet newspaper.


The investigation against Avşar, who wrote on two prosecutors working at the Istanbul Chief Public Prosecutor's Office "made a decision of non-prosecution for money in the investigations opened with the FETO allegation", launched upon a complaint of one of the prosecutors mentioned in the report.

In the indictment which was issued by the Press Crimes Investigation Bureau of the Istanbul Chief Public Prosecutor's Office on 19 September 2019, it was claimed that Avşar "committed the crime of insulting public officials by portraying prosecutors as public officials who took action in return for bribery." The prosecutor demanded Avşar be punished for "insulting a public official successively."


Following the acceptance of the indictment by the Istanbul 2nd Criminal Court of First Instance, the prosecution of Avşar started. The first hearing of the trial was held on 16 January 2020.


At the hearing where Avşar did not attend, her lawyer Buket Yazıcı made a defense by stating that the case was not filed within four months following the publication date of the news, in violation of the Press Law, and requested Avşar's acquittal.


Aydın Meydan, the lawyer of the prosecutor who was the complainant, by arguing that "regarding the crime of insulting a public official, the statute of limitation stipulated by the Criminal Procedure Law should be followed, not the Press Law,” and demanded Avşar’s conviction.


Reminding that according to the 26th article of the Press Law, the period of filing a lawsuit in terms of daily periodicals was determined as four months, the court stated that the case against Avşar was not filed within this period and decided to drop the case.


In the news of Avşar, the prosecutors who claimed that "they gave a decision of non-prosecution in return for bribery in FETÖ investigations and therefore were dismissed from their duties" were dismissed from the profession with the decision of the Council of Judges and Prosecutors (HSK). The decision to dismiss the prosecutors was made on the same day as Avşar’s.


It was learned that one of the prosecutors who were dismissed from the profession was the prosecutor who prepared the indictment of the Zaman Newspaper case, which included journalists such as Şahin Alpay, Mümtazer Türköne, Ahmet Turan Alkan, and Ali Bulaç.