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 sentenced for "terrorism propaganda"

Three journalists sentenced for

Yücel, Acar and Ünal, who were arrested in March 2018 during police raids on Mücadele Birliği newspaper and Önsöz magazine, were released pending trial at their first hearing



The 11th and final hearing of a trial where Mücadele Birliği newspaper Editor-in-Chief Süleyman Acar, reporter Serpil Ünal and Önsöz magazine Editor-in-Chief Songül Yücel faced terrorism-related charges over their social media posts on Turkey’s 2018 military operation on Syria’s Afrin was held on 9 March 2021 in Istanbul.


P24 monitored the hearing, where none of the journalists on trial were present. They were represented by their lawyers. The only defendant in attendance was Nurten Karahancı, one of the four other defendants facing the same charges in the trial, overseen by the Istanbul 36th High Criminal Court.


In their final opinion presented during the previous hearing, the prosecutor had asked the court to convict Acar and Yücel of “membership in a terrorist organization” and “terrorism propaganda” and Ünal of “terrorism propaganda.”


Presenting their statements in response to the prosecutor’s final opinion, lawyers representing Acar, Ünal and Yücel asked the court to acquit their clients because the elements of the crime had not formed.


Issuing its judgment at the end of the hearing, the court acquitted all defendants of “membership in a terrorist organization” charge. The court sentenced Acar, Yücel and Ünal to 1 year, 6 months and 22 days in prison each for “terrorism propaganda.” Yücel and Ünal’s sentences were deferred. The court did not defer Acar’s sentence due to a previous sentence he had been given in another trial.


Yücel, Acar and Ünal and three subscribers of the Önsöz magazine were arrested on 23 March 2018 during police raids on the offices of Mücadele Birliği and Önsöz. Their social media posts and the press statements they made were held among grounds for their arrests. After remaining in police custody for a week, all six were jailed pending trial on the charge of “membership in a terrorist organization” on 30 March 2018. They were released pending trial at the end of their first hearing, held on 8 August 2018.