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.

Zehra Doğan

Zehra Doğan

Zehra Doğan, a reporter and editor for the pro-Kurdish Jin News Agency (JİNHA) and an artist, was arrested by the police on 21 July 2016 in the southeastern province of Mardin.

She was jailed pending trial two days later on the charge of “membership in a terrorist organization,” based on her reports from Nusaybin, a district in Mardin, and her artwork about military operations in the district and an accompanying curfew, her social media posts and witness statements. Doğan was subsequently formally charged with “membership in a terrorist organization” and “terrorism propaganda” in an indictment.

On 9 December 2016, more than four months into her pre-trial detention, Doğan appeared before the Mardin 2nd High Criminal Court for the first hearing of her trial. The court acquitted her of the charge of “membership in a terrorist organization” and release her pending trial on the charge of “terrorism propaganda.” On 2 March 2017, the court sentenced Doğan to 2 years, 9 months and 22 days in prison on the charge of “terrorism propaganda.” The trial court’s judgment was upheld and finalized by the Gaziantep Regional Court of Justice on 2 June 2017.

On 12 June 2017, Doğan was taken into custody as she was traveling from Diyarbakır to Mardin and was subsequently sent to the Diyarbakır E-Type Prison to serve her finalized prison sentence.

In October 2018, Doğan was transferred to the Tarsus Prison in Mersin against her wish. Doğan was released from the Tarsus Prison on 24 February 2019 upon completing her prison sentence.

In October 2023, the 3rd Criminal Chamber of the Court of Cassation unanimously overturned the prison sentence given in 2017 to Zehra Doğan on the charge of “terrorism propaganda.”

Ruling on an objection filed in 2020 by Doğan's lawyers, the Chamber held that although an acquittal judgment should have been delivered, Doğan had been unlawfully sentenced due to an error in the evaluation of the evidence, and ordered a retrial.

The first hearing of Zehra Doğan's retrial was held on 9 May 2024. Presenting their final opinion, the prosecutor requested Doğan's acquittal on grounds that the act subject to the accusation was not defined as crime in the law. In line with the prosecutor's final opinion, the Mardin 2nd High Criminal Court ruled for Doğan's acquittal.