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.

Three journalists arrested while covering refugee crisis still in custody

Three journalists arrested while covering refugee crisis still in custody

Nine journalists arrested while covering the refugee crisis in Edirne have been released, three journos detained on 29 February remain in custody as of 4 March


Journalists covering the ongoing refugee crisis on the Turkish-Greek border in the Edirne province have been facing the threat of being arrested. The refugee crisis began when thousands of refugees flocked to the Turkish-Greek border after Turkey declared late last week, in the wake of a deadly attack on the Turkish Armed Forces in the Syrian city of Idlib, that it would no longer stop refugees seeking to go to Europe.

Mezopotamya news agency reporters İdris Sayılğan and Naci Kaya, Rudaw TV reporter Ravin Sterk Yıldız and cameraman Mehmet Şirin Akgün and journalist Murat Bay were arrested on 29 February 2020 while reporting near the border. Bay was released several hours later, while Sayılğan was jailed on 2 March on the grounds that he “intentionally violated the judicial control measure imposed on him.” He was released on 3 March after his lawyers objected to his imprisonment.

Kaya’s detention period was extended until 4 March upon an order by the Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office while Rudaw TV’s Yıldız and Akgün were expected to give their statements to a prosecutor on 3 March. However, Sterk and Akgün’s lawyer Gürsel Demir told Bianet on 4 March that his clients’ custody period was also extended.

On 2 March, Reporters Without Borders (RSF) wrote on Twitter that nine international and local media representatives had been arrested in Pazarkule while covering refugees’ attempt to reach Europe. Journalists from EPA, AFP, Getty Images and Nar Photos were among those arrested. The nine journalists were held at the Elçili Gendarmerie Command for one day on the grounds that they had allegedly “entered a restricted military area.” Eight of the journalists were released later that day without giving their statements. British journalist Bradley Secker, who was also arrested for alleged “border violation,” was released later that day after giving his statement.

Journalist claims over 20 arrested

Tuba Demir, a freelance journalist who was also taken into custody on 2 March in Edirne, claimed in a Twitter post she shared after being released later that day that there were more than 20 journalists in custody including her even though the number revealed was only nine. Demir wrote that two journalists from Bulgaria and one from Greece were among those in custody as well as three Syrian TV employees and reporters from Denmark.