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.

Tunca Öğreten

Tunca Öğreten

Tunca Öğreten, a former news editor for news portal Diken, was arrested along with five other journalists in early hours of 25 December 2016, reportedly in connection with the publication of leaked e-mails of Energy Minister Berat Albayrak. Police searched his home for three hours before arresting Öğreten. Pro-government Sabah newspaper reported that Öğreten and other journalists were arrested over their links with Redhack, a hacker group which claimed responsibility for leaking Albayrak’s e-mail messages. It said in addition to the six journalists, arrest warrants were issued for three more people, including Turkish-German journalist Deniz Yücel.

Öğreten and the five journalists were kept in police custody for a record 24 days, following which Öğreten, DİHA editor Ömer Çelik and BirGün employee Mahir Kanaat were jailed pending trial on the charge of “terrorist group membership.” The remaining three journalists were released pending trial.

According to court documents, Öğreten was accused of "membership of the banned Revolutionary People’s Liberation Army/Front (DHKP/C)."

The indictment agianst six journalists was issued in July 2017. It accused Öğreten of “preventing or disrupting an IT system, amending or destroying data” and “committing crimes on behalf of a terrorist organization while not being a member.” The e-mails on which Öğreten reported were stolen and leaked by a hacker group affiliated with the “DHKP-C armed terrorist group,” the prosecution claimed. The indictment also said that "Öğreten formerly worked for the Taraf newspaper," which it describes as "a media outlet of the FETÖ/PDY."

The full text of the indictment (in Turkish) can be accessed here.

The first hearing of their trial took place on 24 October 2017 at the 29th High Criminal Court of Istanbul. The court ruled for Ömer Çelik’s release pending trial and the continuation of Öğreten and Kanaat’s detentions.

Öğreten and Kanaat were released pending trial at the end of the second hearing, on 6 December 2017. 

The 11th hearing of this trial is set for 15 December 2020.

"Insulting the president" accusation

Öğreten is also a defendant alongside writer Perihan Mağden and Yurt daily editors Mehmet Çağlar Tekin and Orhan Şahin in a separate trial, facing up to more than 4 years in prison for “insulting the president.” The accusation stems from a news report that included comments from Mağden, a former columnist for the shuttered Nokta magazine, about a police raid on the magazine in September 2015. The report first appeared on Diken and was re-printed by Yurt daily.

At the end of the 13th hearing of the case, on 10 January 2019, the Istanbul 2nd Criminal Court of First Instance convicted Öğreten and Mağden of "insulting the president" and fined each TL 7,000. The court did not defer the sentences. Journalists Şahin and Tekin were acquitted.