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.

Journalists in State of Emergency - 107

Journalists in State of Emergency - 107

Cumhuriyet, Özgür Gündem solidarity and academics’ trials dominate the week; Emre İper and Ömer Faruk Aydemir released


The fifth hearing of a case where Reporters Without Borders (RSF) Turkey representative Erol Önderoğlu, human rights activist Professor Şebnem Korur Fincancı and writer Ahmet Nesin are charged with “terrorism propaganda” for participating in a solidarity campaign with the pro-Kurdish Özgür Gündem daily, was held at the Istanbul 13th High Criminal Court on December 26.

RSF Secretary-General Christophe Deloire, representatives from PEN International, PEN Turkey, PEN Belgium/Flanders and P24 followed the trial.

Önderoğlu, Fincancı and Nesin were placed in pre-trial detention for their role in the solidarity campaign. They were held for ten days before being freed conditionally in June 2016.

Speaking at the hearing, Önderoğlu referred to the expulsion of journalist Ahmet Şık at the Cumhuriyet trial a day before. “Yesterday, we faced a worrying interference with the right to defense. We want such interferences to end,” Önderoğlu said at the hearing. “I would like to state that I, who stand here before you as a suspect, am concerned because of what happened yesterday. Justice is necessary for all.”

Fincancı also expressed concern, saying that as a human rights defender she found restrictions imposed by the judiciary worrisome.

Lawyers for the defendants reminded the panel of judges, whose members had been changed since the previous hearing, of amicus briefs submitted by the RSF and Article 19.

In its interim ruling, the court decided to postpone the trial to April 18 in order to allow time to question Ahmet Nesin, who is being tried in absentia. The court had already issued an order for the arrest of Nesin, who left Turkey.

Cumhuriyet’s Emre İper released

Emre İper, an accounting department employee of the Cumhuriyet daily who was in prison for 267 days, was released on December 29.

İper’s release followed a statement from Ankara Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office that about 1,000 people were to be released across Turkey after it was understood that some mobile phone applications had been automatically connecting the servers of ByLock, an encrypted messaging system that authorities say was exclusively used by members of the Fethullah Gülen network, blamed for the July 15, 2016 coup attempt. The chief prosecutor’s office said more than 11,000 people were understood to have unknowingly accessed the ByLock servers through other applications.

“Ahmet says hello to you all,” İper said as he was released from Silivri Prison, referring to Cumhuriyet journalist Ahmet Şık who has been held in pre-trial detention in the same facility for a year.

İHA journalist Ömer Faruk Aydemir released

Ömer Faruk Aydemir, an editor at the İhlas News Agency (İHA), was released from Silivri Prison late on December 28 after it was understood that he was not a ByLock user.

Aydemir was arrested and then sent to prison pending trial on terrorism charges in August. He, like Cumhuriyet’s İper, was accused of using the ByLock messaging application, something that the authorities say is a proof of membership in the “Fethullahist Terrorist Organization (FETÖ),” the group blamed for the July 15, 2016 coup attempt.

DİHA reporter convicted and jailed

Abdullah Kaya, a reporter for the shuttered Dicle News Agency (DİHA), was sent to prison on December 24 after a court ruling sentencing him to four years and two months in jail was upheld by an appeals court.

Kaya was first arrested by the police on January 18 and was later jailed pending trial on the charge of “membership of a terrorist group.” He was released by the court at the end of a hearing held on May 11.

But Kaya was sentenced to four years and two months in jail at the end of his trial. The sentence was recently upheld by an appellate court.

After Kaya’s imprisonment and the latest releases, the number of journalists who are in prison serving a conviction or in pre-trial detention is now 150. The detailed list can be reached here.

Ahmet Şık expelled from courtroom in Cumhuriyet trial

Journalist Ahmet Şık was removed from the courtroom at the fifth hearing of the Cumhuriyet trial held on December 25, after the judge said his defense statement was “political” and would not be allowed.

The Istanbul 27th High Criminal Court later ruled that Şık and all other imprisoned defendants in the case remain behind bars pending trial and set 9 March 2018 as the date of the next hearing.

The hearing was originally planned to last two days but was cut short after defense lawyers demanded that the panel of judges recuse themselves, arguing that removal of Şık indicated that the judges were not impartial.

Two other imprisoned defendants, Cumhuriyet Editor-in-Chief Murat Sabuncu and Cumhuriyet Executive Board Chairman Akın Atalay, refused to give their defense statements in response to the judge preventing Şık from presenting his. (The full text of the defense statement that Şık prepared for the hearing can be accessed here.)

A detailed report on the hearing can be read here.

Journalists reported to be in solitary confinement

Mümtazer Türköne, a columnist for the shuttered Zaman newspaper, and Fevzi Yazıcı, the daily’s art director, have been reportedly placed in solitary confinement in Silivri prison.

Yazıcı has been reportedly placed in solitary confinement after he refused to accept that he had a letter signed by Fethullah Gülen on a USB memory stick. Yazıcı, who faces an aggravated life sentence on the charge of “attempting to overthrow the constitutional order,” was not brought to the latest hearing of the trial at the Istanbul 26th High Criminal Court on December 11 as he was being questioned by the police that day.

Türköne, who also faces coup charges, was reported to have been placed in solitary confinement in several Twitter posts but there was no further information.

Academics’ trial postponed to April

The sixth hearing of a case where academics Esra Mungan, Meral Camcı, Muzaffer Kaya and Kıvanç Ersoy are on trial for signing in 2016 a petition calling for peace in Turkey’s Kurdish southeast region and criticizing actions of the security forces there, was held on December 26 at the Istanbul 13th High Criminal Court.

The four academics’ trial had started on the basis of Article 7/2 of the Anti-Terror Law, covering “propaganda for a terrorist organization,” but the prosecutor then requested the defendants be tried on the basis of Article 301 of the Turkish Criminal Code, making it illegal to insult Turkey, the Turkish nation, or Turkish government institutions. Since prosecution based on this clause requires permission from the Justice Ministry, the ministry’s permission is requested for the trial to proceed.

The court decided to inquire if the case file had been reviewed by the Justice Ministry. The next hearing of the case will be held on April 18, 2018.

Prosecutor objects to journalist’s release

The prosecutor in a terrorism investigation into Mezopotamya Agency reporter Seda Taşkın objected on December 27 to a court decision to release her pending trial.

Taşkın, who was taken into police custody because of a “credible tip-off,” was questioned over her social media posts and some of her stories. She was released by the court after questioning by the police on December 23.

Indictment seeks decades behind bars for three journalists

Reporters of the shuttered Dicle News Agency (DİHA) Ferzen Çatak and Mahmut Ruvanas and Azadiye Welat daily reporter Kadri Esen are facing up to 39 years in total in an indictment that came out 22 months after they were briefly detained in Idil, Şırnak.

The three journalists were arrested in a house raid on February 28, 2016 in Idil, during a military curfew, and were later released. In the indictment, Çatak is accused of “exposing as targets those who take part in the fight against terrorism,” “terrorist propaganda” and “terrorist group membership” – charges that carry up to 23 years in prison. Esen and Ruvanas are accused of “exposing as targets those who take part in the fight against terrorism” and “terrorist propaganda,” facing between two to eight years in prison each.

Halla Barakat’s suspected murderer formally charged

The suspected murderer of Syrian anti-regime activist and former journalist Orouba Barakat and her 22-year-old journalist daughter Halla Barakat has been formally charged with murder in an indictment.

The suspect, Ahmad Barakat who is a relative of the murdered mother and daughter, faces two life sentences. According to the indictment, suspect Barakat, who occasionally overnighted at the victims’ house, was at the house the night before the murder. He is allleged to have then stabbed both women with a sharp object during a heated exchange over an undisclosed matter.

 List of journalists in prison

1          Abdulkadir Turay, DİHA reporter

2          Abdullah Kaya, DİHA

3          Abdullah Kılıç, Habertürk

4          Abdullah Özyurt, Zaman reporter

5          Abdulvahap İş (Freelance journalist)

6          Ahmet Altan

7          Ahmet Feyzullah Özyurt

8          Ahmet Memiş, Gazeteci, Haberdar news website

9          Ahmet Metin Sekizkardeş, Zaman journalist

10        Ahmet Şık, Cumhuriyet reporter

11        Ahmet Turan Alkan, Zaman

12        Ahmet Yavaş, TRT (Erzurum)

13        Akın Atalay, Pres. of Cumhuriyet Foundation Executive Board

14        Alaattin Güner, Cihan media director

15        Ali Ahmet Böken, TRT News coordinator

16        Ali Aşikar – Azadiya Welat

17        Ali Babür Boysal, Zaman page designer

18        Ali Bulaç, Eski Zaman columnist

19        Ali Ünal, Zaman columnist

20        Ali Yüce, TRT Radio broadcasts chief

21        Arafat Dayan, Demokratik Ulus

22        Aslı Ceren Aslan, Özgür Gelecek

23        Ayhan Demir, Çaldıran News Agency

24        Ayşe Nazlı Ilıcak

25        Ayşenur Parıldak, Zaman, Haberdar

26        Aytekin Gezici, journalist/writer

27        Aziz İstegün, Diyarbakır Zaman representative

28        Bayram Kaya, Zaman reporter

29        Behram Kılıç

30        Beytullah Özdemir, Zaman Düzce bureau chief

31        Burak Ekici, Birgün

32        Burçin Dokgöz, former Zaman and Çorum reporter

33        Cemal Azmi Kalyoncu, Journalists and Writers’ Foundation

34        Ceren Taşkın, Hatay'ın Sesi

35        Cuma Kaya, Zaman

36        Cuma Ulus, Millet newspaper’s publications coordinator

37        Cüneyt Seza Özkan, Samanyolu TV

38        Çağdaş Erdoğan, Photojournalist

39        Deniz Yücel, Die Welt

40        Emin Demir, Freelancer

41        Emre Soncan, Zaman defense reporter

42        Ercan Gün, Fox TV

43        Erdal Süsem, Eylül magazine editor

44        Erdal Şen, former Meydan managing editor

45        Erdoğan Alayamut, Dihaber reporter

46        Erol Yüksel (TRT News Department vice president))

47        Erol Zavar, Odak magazine, owner and newsroom director

48        Fahrettin Kılıç, Özgür Toplum

49        Faruk Akkan, Cihan news agency

50        Ferhat Çiftçi, Azadiya Welat Gaziantep bureau chief

51        Fevzi Yazıcı

52        Gökçe Fırat Çulhaoğlu, Türksolu columnist

53        Gurbet Çakar, Hevi women’s magazine

54        Gültekin Avcı

55        Habip Güler, Zaman reporter

56        Hakan Aksel, TRT producer-director

57        Hakan Ergün, Azadiya Welat and Özgür Gündem distributor

58        Hakan Taşdelen

59        Halil İbrahim Mert, TRT (Erzurum)

60        Hamit Dilbahar, Azadiya Welat columnist

61        Hamza Günerigök, TRT

62        Hanım Büşra Erdal, Zaman reporter and columnist

63        Hasan Duman, Özgürlükçü Demokrasi distributor

64        Hatice Duman, Atılım newspaper’s owner and managing editor

65        Havva Cuştan, ETHA reporter

66        Hayati Yıldız, Azadiya Welat

67        Hidayet Karaca, Samanyolu Media Group President

68        Hüseyin Aydın, Cihan reporter

69        Hüseyin Turan, Zaman columnist

70        İbrahim Balta, Zaman business editor

71        İbrahim Kareyeğen, responsible editor for Zaman

72        İdris Okur, Cihan New Agency Çorum reporter

73        İdris Sayılgan, DİHA

74        İsmail Efe, local press advisor in İzmir

75        İsmail Ersan, Anatolia news agency

76        İsminaz Temel, ETHA editor

77        Kamuran Sunbat, DİHA Çukurova reporter (formerly)

78        Kemal Demir, TV 10

79        Kemal Özer, Evrensel

80        Kenan Karavil, Radyo Dünya editor-in-chief

81        Mehmet Ali Ay

82        Mehmet Altan

83        Mehmet Baransu, Taraf columnist/reporter

84        Mehmet Dener, Şanlı editor-in-chief

85        Mehmet Güleş, DİHA

86        Mehmet Gündem

87        Mehmet Kuru, Zaman Eskişehir reporter

88        Mehmet Özdemir, Zaman columnist

89        Meltem Oktay, DİHA reporter

90        Mikail Barut, Özgür Halk former editor

91        Miktat Algül, Mezitli FM General Publications Coordinator

92        Mizgin Çay – Radyo Karacadağ

93        Muhammet Taşçılar, Şanlı editor-in-chief

94        Muhsin Pilgir, Zaman and Cihan news agency

95        Murat Avcıoğlu, Zaman

96        Murat Çapan, Nokta

97        Murat Dağdeviren (Demokrat Gebze owner)

98        Murat Sabuncu, Editor-in- Chief

99        Mustafa Erkan Acar, Bugün news editor,

100      Mustafa Gök, Ankara bureau chief for Ekmek ve Adalet magazine

101      Mustafa Ünal, Zaman

102      Mutlu Çölgeçen, Millet, newsroom coordinator

103      Mutlu Özay, Cihan reporter

104      Mümtazer Türköne, Zaman columnist

105      Nadir Yücel, Çorum Yıldız (local) Editor-in-Chief

106      Nedim Türfent,DİHA

107      Nizamettin İzgi (Batman Newspaper’s owner)

108      Nuh Gönültaş

109      Nur Ener, Yeni Asya

110      Nuri Durna, TRT

111      Nuri Yeşil, Azadiya Welat Dersim bureau chief

112      Nurullah Kaya, G.antep Zaman representative

113      Oğuz Usluer, Habertürk former broadcasts coordinator

114      Osman Yakut, Zaman Antalya

115      Ömer Faruk Aydemir, İHA editor

116      Ömer Oruç, Cihan newspaper

117      Özcan Keser (TRT reporter)

118      Özkan Erdoğan, Özgürlükçü Demokrasi

119      Rabia Özkaya, Özgür Halk

120      Ramazan Alkan, Yeni Akit reporter

121      Resul Cengiz, Denizli reporter with Zaman

122      Sadık Demir – Radyo Karacadağ

123      Sait Gürka Tuzlu, Cihan reporter

124      Salih Erbekler – Radyo Karacadağ

125      Sami Tunca, Mücadele Birliği magazine Managing Editor

126      Semiha Mete, Özgürlükçü Demokrasi reporter and distributor

127      Serhat Şeftali, Zaman regional bureau chief for the Med region

128      Serkan Aydemir, Bitlis Aktüel reporter

129      Serkan Erdoğan, Özgürlükçü Demokrasi

130      Seyid Kılıç, TRT News

131      Seyithan Akyüz, Azadiya Welat Adana bureau chief

132      Şahabettin Demir, DİHA reporter

133      Şahin Alpay, Zaman columnist

134      Şeref Yılmaz, Irmak TV

135      Şerife Oruç, DİHA reporter

136      Tahsin Kürklü, Zaman – head of Logistics Department

137      Togay Okay, Özgür Gelecek

138      Tuncer Çetinkaya, Zaman Antalya

139      Ufuk Şanlı, former Vatan columnist

140      Ünal Tanık, Rota Haber editor-in-chief

141      Vahit Yazgan, İzmir Zaman bureau chief

142      Yakup Çetin, Zaman reporter

143      Yakup Şimşek, Zaman, marketing director

144      Yalçın Güler, TRT (Erzurum)

145      Yasir Kaya, Fenerbahçe TV, formerly

146      Yener Dönmez, Habervaktim news website

147      Yetkin Yıldız, Aktif Haber website editor

148      Yılmaz Kahraman, Özgür Halk editor

149      Zafer Özsoy

150      Zehra Doğan, Jinha

151      Ziya Ataman, DİHA reporter

For a full list of all the imprisoned journalists in Turkey, visit this spreadsheet. Lists of all of the foundations and associations as well as media outlets shut down can also be found at the same link, although on different tabs of the same spreadsheet.