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 Özdilek

Zehra Özdilek

An investigation was launched against Zehra Özdilek, a reporter for Cumhuriyet newspaper, on the grounds that she had disclosed the name of an anonymous witness in an interview she made with a teacher who was dismissed by a Statutory Decree (KHK).


In the investigation launched against Özdilek due to her article titled “Free after 1.5 years” published in Cumhuriyet on 9 May 2019, it was decided that there was “no need to prosecute” on 7 October 2019. However, the prosecutor prepared an indictment against Özdilek 20 days after this decision, accusing her of "targeting officials involved in the fight against terrorism.” The indictment dated 28 October 2019, was accepted by the Istanbul 27th High Criminal Court.


The first hearing of the trial was held on 12 February 2020. In her defense, Özdilek rejected the accusation and demanded her acquittal with the following words: “I am reporting violations of rights. The news in question was the news of the violation of rights. I do not think my news is a crime. It should be evaluated within the scope of freedom of the press. The news on the aforementioned anonymous witness has been reported in many places before with his full name.”


Presenting his final opinion at the fourth hearing on 24 September 2020, the prosecutor demanded the acquittal of Özdilek, stating that the action subject to the crime remained within the framework of the freedom of the press and that the legal elements of the charged crime did not occur.


In her final defense, Özdilek stated that the anonymous witness’s name was published in many previous reports by Sabah, Anadolu Agency and Yeni Şafak. “Since I did not reveal the identity of the witness, I do not accept the charges. I demand my acquittal,” Özdilek said.


“The name of Berk Ercan, who is an anonymous witness in many cases, has been featured in many news reports since 2017. My client did not reveal the identity of the witness. There is no tangible side of the charge,” Buket Yazıcı, Özdilek’s lawyer, said and demanded her client’s acquittal.


The court ruled for Özdilek’s acquittal on the grounds that the accusation’s legal elements did not occur.