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.

Meşale Tolu

Meşale Tolu

Meşale Tolu, a German citizen who worked as a reporter and translator for Etkin News Agency (ETHA), was detained during a police raid at her house where she lived with her two-and-a-half-years-old son on 30 April 2017, and subsequently jailed pending trial on 6 May.

Police used force against her in front of her son during the raid, Tolu said at her court statement, adding that they also pointed him a gun to her son. She faces up to 15 years in prison on charges of “terror propaganda” and “membership of a terrorist organization.”

The accusations against Tolu in the indictment stem from her participation in a march held in 2014 for Suphi Nejat Ağırnaslı, a student from Boğaziçi University who was killed near Kobane during the fighting against ISIS,  an anti-corruption demonstration organized also in 2014 by the Socialist Party of the Oppressed (ESP) in Istanbul’s Kadıköy District and the funeral of two women, Yeliz Erbay and Şirin Öter, killed during a police raid at a house in Istanbul. The indictment also considered copies of the Marxist Theory Magazine, a legal publication in Turkey, found at her home as evidence, along with a secret witness testimony.

Tolu, whose husband was also arrested weeks before her as part of a different investigation and held in pre-trial detention until his release in November, was remanded to the Bakırköy Women’s Closed Penal Facility, where she stayed with her son. She was released on judicial control after 7,5 months of imprisonment at the end of the second hearing of her trial held on 18 December 2017. Six other defendants were also released at the same hearing. The third hearing of her trial was held on 26 April 2018, at the end of which the court ruled to keep the travel ban on Tolu in place.

On 20 August, the court ruled to lift the travel ban for Tolu while her trial still continues. Her husband, who faces similar charges, however, must stay in Turkey as his travel ban remains in place.