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 - 138

Journalists in State of Emergency - 138

“KCK press trial” adjourned again; 18 defendants separated from “Zaman trial” make final defense statements; at least 184 journalists behind bars

The 14th hearing of the “KCK Press trial,” in which 46 journalists face “membership in a terrorist group” and “leadership of a terrorist group” charges, was held on April 27, 2018, at the Istanbul 3rd High Criminal Court.

Çağdaş Ulus, one of the 46 journalists standing trial in the case, as well as the journalists’ lawyers were present at the hearing. The lawyers requested the lifting of the travel bans imposed on the suspects, which the court rejected on grounds of the statutory decree nr. 667. The court adjourned the trial until September 7, 2018.

18 defendants separated from Zaman trial appear before court

Eighteen defendants whose files were separated from the ongoing trial into the columnists and employees of the shuttered Zaman newspaper appeared before the 13th High Criminal Court of Istanbul on April 27. They began making their final defense statements in response to the accusations in the prosecutor’s final opinion, submitted during the previous hearing.

Eight of the defendants -- Hüseyin Turan, Ahmet Metin Sekizkardeş, Murat Avcıoğlu, Osman Nuri Arslan, Ahmet İrem, Zafer Özsoy, Alaattin Güner and Cuma Kaya -- gave their defense statements during Friday’s session. The lawyer representing defendant Osman Nuri Öztürk requested that his file is separated from this case, while the court decided to hear the statement of Şeref Yılmaz at a later session after his lawyer refused to address the court during Friday’s session on grounds of new evidence against him to have been presented through witness testimony.

The hearing will continue with more defense statements on Monday, April 30.

Ahmet Altan acquitted of “insulting the president” charge 

On April 26, imprisoned novelist and journalist Ahmet Altan was acquitted of “insulting the president” at the end of the seventh and final hearing of a trial in which the accusation was based on his remarks in an interview he gave in April 2015 to the news website Grihat, headlined “Saraylarda oturabilmek için gencecik çocukları öldürüyorlar” (They’re killing children so that they can live in palaces).

To read more about the hearing, monitored in the courtroom by P24, click here.

Court maintains travel ban imposed on Meşale Tolu 

The latest hearing in a case where Etkin news agency (ETHA) reporter and translator Meşale Tolu is standing trial alongside 26 others was held on April 26 at the 29th High Criminal Court of Istanbul. Tolu faces “membership in a terrorist organization” and “conducting propaganda for a terrorist organization” charges. The court rejected the request to lift the travel ban imposed on some of the defendants in the case, including Tolu, and adjourned the trial until October 16.

A detailed report about the hearing can be found here.

Cumhuriyet journalists convicted of “aiding terrorist organization” 

Fourteen columnists and executives of Cumhuriyet daily were convicted of “aiding a terrorist organization without being its member” at the final hearing of the Cumhuriyet trial on April 25, held at a courtroom inside the Silivri Prison compound. The 27th High Criminal Court of Istanbul handed down prison sentences to 14 of the newspaper’s columnists and executives standing trial in the case, while acquitting three of the suspects and separating the files of two journalists from the case.

A detailed report about the hearing can be found here.

Journalist Erdoğan Alayumat remains behind bars in 2nd hearing

The second hearing of a case in which journalists Erdoğan Alayumat and Nuri Akman are standing trial on account of their reporting and news photography, risking up to 45 years in prison each on “espionage” and “membership in a terrorist organization” charges, was held on April 25 at the 2nd High Criminal court of Hatay.

Alayumat participated in the hearing via the courtroom video-conferencing system SEGBİS from the Samsun Bafra Prison, where he is currently in detention on remand.

Alayumat’s lawyer Tugay Bek told the court that the photographs taken by Alayumat, which the accusations leveled against the journalist are based on, were purely aimed as news photography.

In its interim ruling, the court adjourned the trial until May 23, awaiting the Turkish General Staff response to a writ in which the court inquired about the said photographs. The court also ordered the continuation of Alayumat’s pretrial detention.

İsmail Küçükkaya handed down suspended prison sentence

A Turkish court on April 25 handed down journalist İsmail Küçükkaya and his lawyer Fidel Okan prison sentences of 1 year, 4 months and 20 days each for “insulting a public official” and “degrading the organs and institutions of the state.” The case was based on a claim the journalist had voiced during a news program he hosted on Fox TV, in which he had said the husband of Turkey’s Minister of Family and Social Policy was a “ByLock user.” The court suspended both sentences.

Journalist Fuat Yaşar to stand trial for his social media posts 

Fuat Yaşar, a Diyarbakır-based reporter for the news website 1HaberVar, will appear before the 9th High Criminal Court of Diyarbakır in the coming months as part of a trial in which the accusations are based on the journalist’s social media posts.

Yaşar had given his statement to the anti-terror police on March 22 as part of an investigation launched following an anonymous complaint concerning the journalist’s social media posts. Based on an anonymous tip off, a public prosecutor had opened an investigation, accusing Yaşar of “conducting propaganda for a terrorist organization.”

Hayatın Sesi TV “propaganda” trial adjourned until September

Three executives of the shuttered Hayatın Sesi TV station gave their defense statements before the 13th High Criminal Court of Istanbul on April 24 at the fourth hearing of a trial in which they each face up to 13 years in prison on the charge of “conducting continuous propaganda for a terrorist organization.” The court adjourned the trial over the lawyers’ request for additional time and set September 19, 2018, as the date of the next hearing.

You can read more about the hearing, monitored in the courtroom by P24, here.

Former Zaman representative Çetinkaya freed over health issues 

An Antalya court on April 24 sentenced Tuncer Çetinkaya, the former Antalya regional representative for the shuttered Zaman newspaper, to 7.5 years in prison for “membership in a terrorist organization.” Çetinkaya had been jailed pending trial as part of the case, based on an investigation into the failed coup attempt of July 15, 2016. Çetinkaya was standing trial along with 13 other suspects. The court ruled to release Çetinkaya from detention under judicial control measures over health concerns.

Evrensel reporter Cansu Pişkin faces investigation over news story

Evrensel reporter Cansu Pişkin is facing a criminal investigation for a news report she penned concerning the prosecutor appointed to investigate the Boğaziçi University students who have been jailed over staging an anti-war demonstration.

The journalist is accused in the investigation file of “marking the identity of a state official assigned in fight against terrorism as a target.”

Pişkin reported in her story that the prosecutor assigned to the investigation concerning the Boğaziçi students on April 3, the day on which the students were referred to court, had claimed in a previous indictment that the People’s Democratic Party (HDP) was a political party “operating under the guidance of a terrorist group.”

Other freedom of expression cases of the week past   

A prosecutor on April 26 requested prison sentences for nine more academics who are standing trial on “conducting propaganda for a terrorist organization” charges for signing 2016’s Academics for Peace declaration. The prosecutor requested prison sentences for İbrahim Kaboğlu, Güven Gürkan Öztan, İpek Merçil, Oğuz Arıcı, Gülhan Türkay, Sinan Yıldırmaz, Taner Gören, Mehmet Rıza Türkay and Yücel Candemir at the second hearings of their respective trials overseen by the 36th High Criminal Court of Istanbul on Thursday. Lawyers representing the academics requested the extension of the investigations. The court rejected the requests and adjourned all nine trials until October 23, 2018.

Lütfiye Bozdağ and Feryal Delfin Saygılıgil, two more academics who also signed the Academics for Peace declaration, appeared at the first hearings of their respective trials on the same charge before the 37th High Criminal court of Istanbul, which rejected their lawyers’ requests to merge the cases and adjourned the trials to October 17, and 16.

Onur Kılıç, an Izmir-based politician from the left-wing Freedom and Solidarity

Party (ÖDP), was arrested during a police raid on his home on April 26 in Izmir. Kılıç was among a number of individuals taken into custody during the same operation. The grounds for their arrests were their social media posts.

P24 updates its list of jailed journalists and media workers

P24 has updated its list of jailed journalists and media workers, a list compiled from open sources using information available to the general public.

Following the latest developments in April, including Akın Atalay and Tuncer Çetinkaya’s recent releases under judicial control measures, and the jailing earlier this month of the owner of Gün Matbaacılık, Kasım Zengin, and 19 employees of the printing company as part of an investigation targeting the pro-Kurdish Özgürlükçü Demokrasi newspaper, there are at least 184 journalists and media workers either in pretrial detention or serving prison sentences in Turkey’s prisons as of April 28, 2018.

The full list can be accessed here.