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.

Trial of journalist Sibel Hürtaş adjourned: Plaintiff police officers to be brought in by force

Trial of journalist Sibel Hürtaş adjourned: Plaintiff police officers to be brought in by force

The court rules for the three plaintiff police officers who did not attend the hearing to be brought in by force


The third hearing in the trial of Turkish Journalists’ Union (TGS) Ankara branch chair Sibel Hürtaş, who was detained while she was covering a protest in October 2020, on charges of “prevention of public duty” upon a complaint lodged by police officers who intervened against her was held at the Ankara 37th Criminal Court of First Instance on 27 October 2022.

Aside from Sibel Hürtaş and her lawyer, one of the plaintiff police officers attended the hearing, while the other three officers were not present. The European Union Delegation and the TGS monitored the hearing.

Journalists who tried to enter the courthouse to cover the hearing were obstructed by police officers, saying they were “instructed to do so.” The obstruction for which no written justification was provided was due to the ongoing legal process of Turkish Medical Association (TTB) Chair Şebnem Korur Fincancı, who was brought to Ankara after being arrested in İstanbul on 26 October.

The plaintiff police officer S.S., who attended the hearing, said in his statement in court that they had detained Sibel Hürtaş on the grounds of not abiding by social distancing rules and to issue an administrative fine. S.S. stated that Sibel Hürtaş did not engage in any physical assault or threaten him or other police officers, only displayed non-violent resistance while being taken to the police vehicle and that it was also impossible to hear anything due to loud noise. However, upon having been reminded of his previous statement given at the police station, S.S. stated that he might have forgotten some of what Hürtaş said as a long time had passed since the incident and claimed that Hürtaş had physically assaulted him and other police officers inside the vehicle.

S.S. also stated that he wanted to press charges against Hürtaş and requested inclusion in the trial as a co-plaintiff.

Following the police officer’s statement, the panel of judges ruled that three plaintiff police officers, who did not attend the hearings, be brought in by force and adjourned the trial until 30 March 2023.

In a statement after the hearing, Hürtaş stated that the administrative fine handed to her by police officers had been annulled.

What happened?

On 3 July 2020, presidents of bar associations from across Turkey had carried out a sit-in on Parliament grounds to protest the new legislation allowing for establishment of multiple bar associations. Hürtaş, who wanted to report on the protest, was obstructed by the police and detained upon insisting on reporting. Hürtaş stated that she was tortured and mistreated by being choked inside the detention vehicle.

The court ruled not to prosecute over the complaint Hürtaş filed against the police officers and a lawsuit was filed against her on charges of “prevention of public duty.” If found guilty, Hürtaş may be sentenced to imprisonment of up to 3 years.