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.

Appellate court upholds verdict in "Zaman trial"

Appellate court upholds verdict in

The trial court had convicted columnists Ahmet Turan Alkan, Ali Bulaç, Şahin Alpay, Mümtazer Türköne, Mustafa Ünal and editor İbrahim Karayeğen of “membership in a terrorist group” in July 2018


An appellate court has upheld the verdict rendered last year in the “Zaman trial,” where 11 former columnists and editors of the shuttered newspaper were accused of “attempting to overthrow the constitutional order” and “membership in a terrorist group.”

The 2nd Criminal Chamber of the Istanbul Regional Court of Justice upheld the trial court’s verdict on 25 June 2019. The prosecutor has appealed against the appellate court’s ruling at the Supreme Court of Appeals.

The trial court had convicted six of the defendants in the case on 6 July 2018, while acquitting five journalists of all charges.

Columnists Ahmet Turan Alkan, Ali Bulaç, Şahin Alpay, Mümtazer Türköne, Zaman’s Ankara representative Mustafa Ünal and the newspaper’s night shift editor İbrahim Karayeğen were convicted of “membership in a terrorist group” and each given prison terms between 8 years and 9 months and 10.5 years. Columnists Lale Sarıibrahimoğlu, Nuriye Ural, İhsan Dağı, editor Mehmet Özdemir and lawyer Orhan Kemal Cengiz were acquitted of all charges.

Türköne and Ünal were each sentenced to 10 years and six months in prison and ordered to remain behind bars pending the appeal process.

The trial, which got under way in April 2017, was based on an indictment into 30 people initially. The investigation targeted journalists, columnists and other press members from media outlets linked with the religious network led by US-based cleric Fethullah Gülen. The Turkish government lists the Gülen movement as a terrorist organization and accuses its members of orchestrating the failed coup attempt of 15 July 2016.