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.

Freedom of Expression and the Press in Turkey – 223

Freedom of Expression and the Press in Turkey – 223

Appellate courts cancel Ahmet Altan’s sentence for “insulting Atatürk,” uphold another sentence on charges of “insulting the president” and “propaganda”; journalist Mehmet Erol to stand trial on “propaganda” charge


Appellate courts cancel one sentence against Ahmet Altan, uphold another

An appellate court has canceled a prison sentence given to jailed novelist and journalist Ahmet Altan on the charge of “publicly insulting Atatürk” over a 2010 article titled “CHP,” published in the shuttered Taraf daily.

The 18th Criminal Chamber of the Istanbul Regional Court of Justice, reviewing the appeal against the sentence on 26 December 2019, annulled the 1 year and 6 month sentence given to Altan on 2 July 2019 by the Anadolu 2nd Criminal Court of First Instance. The court ruled unanimously for Altan’s acquittal.

Another court rejected an appeal by Altan’s lawyers against a sentence he was given in 2018. The 3rd Criminal Chamber of the Istanbul Regional Court of Justice rejected the appeal against the 5-year-and-11-month sentence Altan was handed down on two different charges over his June 2016 article titled “Ezip Geçmek” (Beating all hollow).

The appellate court reviewed the appeal on 17 December 2019. The court upheld the 2 year and 11 month sentence on the charge of “insulting the president” and the 3-year sentence on the charge of “spreading propaganda for a terrorist group” Altan was given by the 26th High Criminal Court of Istanbul. Altan’s lawyers will appeal the ruling with the Supreme Court of Appeals.

A report about both appellate court rulings can be accessed here.

Journalist Mehmet Erol to stand trial for “terrorism propaganda”

Journalist Mehmet Erol will stand trial on the charge of “spreading propaganda for a terrorist organization” over his Twitter posts from between 2013 and 2015 and several other social media posts he shared on the account owned by the Democratic Regions Party (DBP), for which he used to work as a press advisor.

The indictment against Erol, issued by the Diyarbakır Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office, was recently accepted by the 10th High Criminal Court of Diyarbakır. The indictment seeks up to 7 years and 6 months imprisonment for Erol.

Journalist Murat İde assaulted

Yeniçağ newspaper columnist and KRT TV program producer Murat İde, who is also a press advisor for İYİ Party, was attacked by a group of unidentified assailants as he was heading home after a live appearance on KRT TV. The assailants punched İde and beat him with bats. İde said three cars followed him on his way home and that a group of about seven or eight people attacked him.

Supreme Court prosecutor submits opinion in “Zaman trial”

The Office of the General Prosecutor of the Supreme Court of Appeals submitted its opinion on the trial of 11 former columnists and editors of the shuttered Zaman newspaper on coup and terrorism-related charges.

The opinion, submitted on 23 December 2019 to the 16th Criminal Chamber of the Supreme Court of Appeals, maintains that prison terms given to Zaman’s former columnists Ahmet Turan Alkan, Mümtazer Türköne, Mustafa Ünal and night editor İbrahim Karayeğen on the charge of “membership of a terrorist organization” should be upheld. Convictions of columnists Şahin Alpay and Ali Bulaç, on the other hand, should be overturned as they should have been charged with “knowingly and willingly aiding the FETÖ/PDY terrorist organization without being part of its hierarchical structure,” the opinion says.

The prosecutor also asks the top court to uphold decisions for acquittal of columnists Lale Sarıibrahimoğlu, Nuriye Ural, İhsan Dağı and Orhan Kemal Cengiz, while challenging the acquittal of news editor Mehmet Özdemir.

A report about the prosecutor’s opinion can be accessed here.

P24 updates list of journalists and media workers in prison

P24 has updated its list of journalists and media workers in prison, compiled using information available in open sources.

Latest research has revealed that former TRT employees Ahmet Yavaş, Halil İbrahim Mert and Nuri Durna have been released from prison. Accordingly, as of 3 January 2019, at least 109 journalists and media workers are in prison in Turkey, either in pre-trial detention or serving a sentence.

The full list can be accessed here.