Press and freedom of expression bulletin for the week of February 12

Press and freedom of expression bulletin for the week of February 12

The Izmir Chief Public Prosecutor's Office initiated an investigation, resulting in the detention of six journalists

Activist Sedat Cezayirlioğlu was detained under the accusation of "publicly spreading misleading information," dubbed the "censorship law"; journalist Şükran Ekinci gave a statement, and an indictment was prepared against journalist Tolga Şardan.

This week, while trials concerning press and freedom of expression were held in various provinces, pressures against journalists continued. In Izmir, in addition to the six journalists, two more journalists were detained, one in Istanbul and the other in Dersim. An activist was also detained in Erzincan. One journalist was arrested. Cases were filed against two journalists, and three trials regarding press and freedom of expression concluded with verdicts.

The public agenda this week was dominated by investigations opened under the so-called "censorship law," officially concerning the "public dissemination of misleading information," focusing on the gold mine disaster in Erzincan's İliç. Under this law, activist Sedat Cezayirlioğlu was detained, journalist Şükran Ekinci gave a statement, and an indictment was prepared against Tolga Şardan.

The MLSA Trial Monitoring Unit observed a total of 14 trials this week in Istanbul, Ankara, Eskişehir, Diyarbakır, Ankara, Adana, and Bolu.

February 12, Monday

MLSA files a compensation lawsuit for the raid on journalist İrfan Uçar's home. The MLSA Legal Unit filed a material and moral compensation lawsuit against the Treasury of Finance, arguing that the raid on journalist İrfan Uçar's home was conducted without legal and legitimate reasons, his materials were seized, and he was subjected to judicial control.

A lawsuit was filed against journalist Furkan Karabay for "insulting the president." The evidence in the indictment included Karabay's social media posts during the earthquake. The first hearing of the case, opened at the Istanbul 60th Criminal Court of First Instance, will be held on October 3, 2024.

Journalist Kibriye Evren, who was detained, has been released under judicial control. Evren, who was detained at her home in Istanbul Tuzla and held at the police station for three days, was referred to the Peace Criminal Judgeship on Monday with a request for her arrest. Evren had been detained during a raid on her home on Friday. Due to the confidentiality order placed on the file, her lawyers were unable to access the case file.

Journalist Selamet Turan was arrested. Journalist Selamet Turan, who was detained three days ago, was arrested on Monday after courthouse procedures on charges of "membership in a terrorist organization." Turan was detained during a police raid on his home in Şırnak's Cizre district on Friday, February 9, as part of an investigation initiated by the Diyarbakır Chief Public Prosecutor's Office and was brought to Diyarbakır.

February 13, Tuesday

In the investigation initiated by the Izmir Chief Public Prosecutor's Office, six journalists whose homes were raided early in the morning were detained. The MLSA Legal Unit lawyer Muhammed Ünsal, who accompanied the journalists during their statements at the police station, reported that they were detained with handcuffs behind their backs and subjected to ill-treatment. During the interrogation at the police station, journalists were questioned about their news reports, phone conversations, and interviews. On the morning of the fourth day, the journalists were referred to the Republic Prosecutor's Office. Here, the journalists were kept waiting in handcuffs behind their backs for four hours. By the prosecutor's order, their handcuffs were adjusted to the front. Lawyers from MLSA, as well as from ÖHD and İHD, supported the journalists in their defense statements.

The compensation lawsuit filed by AKP-affiliated communications professor Sözen against journalist Hayri Demir begins. Journalist Hayri Demir, defended by MLSA, faced a judge at the Istanbul 8th Civil Court of First Instance in the compensation lawsuit filed by Edibe Sözen, a communications professor and former AKP MP, who is also the chairman of the Board of Directors of the Press Advertisement Agency. Emine Özhasar, a lawyer from the MLSA Legal Unit defending Demir, reminded the plaintiff's side of the boundaries of freedom of expression, stating that the news story in question was an exercise of the right to press and freedom of expression.

The court decided to continue the detention of journalist Mehmet Kamış. The court decided to continue the detention of Mehmet Kamış, the former Deputy Editor-in-Chief of the now-closed Zaman newspaper, on trial at the Istanbul 26th High Criminal Court, citing flight risk.

The "Gezi Park strip-search case" involving three police officers was sent to the prosecutor. The trial continued at the Istanbul 11th High Criminal Court for three police officers, one of whom was the detention center chief at the time, accused of subjecting Mücella Yapıcı, a spokesperson for Taksim Solidarity, and her daughter Cansu Yapıcı, to strip searches. They are charged with "torture and maltreatment," with sentences ranging from 3 to 12 years sought. The court panel rejected requests for expanding the investigation through site inspections and witness testimonies.

February 14, Wednesday

Ahmet Altan, Nazlı Ilıcak, and Fevzi Yazıcı convicted. Journalists Ahmet Altan, Nazlı Ilıcak, Fevzi Yazıcı, and Yakup Şimşek, tried for allegedly having prior knowledge of the July 15 coup attempt, have received their verdicts. Nazlı Ilıcak was sentenced to 5 years and 3 months for "assisting an organization without being a member," Ahmet Altan received 6 years, 3 months, and 18 days for the same charge, and Yazıcı was sentenced to 1 year and 13 months; however, Yakup Şimşek was acquitted.

The trial for the commemoration of the Suruç Massacre is proceeding to a decision without hearing the police witness. The tenth hearing of the case against 17 individuals detained during the police intervention at a press statement intended for the sixth anniversary of the Suruç Massacre on July 18, 2021, in İnönü Park, Seyhan district, Adana, was seen at the Adana 17th Criminal Court of First Instance. The individuals were charged with "violating the Law on Meetings and Demonstrations No. 2911" and "resisting to prevent the performance of duty." The court decided not to hear the police officers who prepared the reports leading to the accusations against the defendants and sent the file to the prosecutor for preparation of the opinion on the merits.

Audience restrictions imposed on the 'Pride March Case'. The first hearing of the case against 18 individuals detained for participating in the '3rd Eskişehir Pride March' took place at the Eskişehir 4th Criminal Court of First Instance. Despite there being no confidentiality order, restrictions were imposed on audience attendance due to the high number of attendees.

SOL Party members stand trial for distributing leaflets. In Bolu, the trial against four members of the SOL Party, charged with "insulting the president" for distributing leaflets related to the May 14 general elections, began at the Bolu 2nd Criminal Court of First Instance.

Court of Cassation: Participating in DTK meetings and expressing opinions is not a crime. The Court of Cassation found the prison sentences given to Hülya Alökmen for her participation in a press statement and activities of the Democratic Society Congress within union activities, and to academic İrfan Açıkgöz, as unlawful.

The arrest warrant for journalist Ramazan Ölçen was not lifted. The 13th hearing of the case against Ramazan Ölçen, the license holder of the Azadiya Welat newspaper, which was closed down by a Statutory Decree (KHK), was seen at the Diyarbakır 11th High Criminal Court on charges of "membership in an organization." MLSA monitored the case.

Journalist Ertan Çıta's assets were frozen by a decision published in the Official Gazette. In the decision, Ertan Çıta's name appears as "Persons Affiliated with the TKL/MP Conference Terror Organization."

Journalist Kamil Murat Demir sentenced for "conscientious objection." According to the Conscientious Objection website, Demir was sentenced to 1 year and 20 days in prison for being a draft evader. His sentence was converted to a judicial fine, and Demir was fined 1,480 Turkish Liras.

Activist Sedat Cezayirlioğlu detained under the "censorship law." Cezayirlioğlu is accused of "publicly spreading misleading information" due to his statements regarding the mine disaster in Erzincan's İliç.

Journalist Abdullah Kaya called to testify. Abdullah Kaya was summoned for a testimony by the Diyadin Chief Public Prosecutor's Office, but no information was provided regarding the investigation against him.

February 15, Thursday

Journalist Nagihan Yılkın fined following a complaint by Governor Davut Gül. The Istanbul 2nd Criminal Court of First Instance fined journalist Nagihan Yılkın 7,080 TL for "insulting a public official" following a complaint by then Governor of Gaziantep, Davut Gül, while journalist Mustafa Büyüksipahi was acquitted.

Torture expert report for AFP correspondent Bülent Kılıç. In the case of AFP photojournalist Bülent Kılıç, defended by MLSA, charged with "resisting to prevent performance of duty" and "publicly insulting a public official due to their duty" at the Istanbul 19th Criminal Court of First Instance, an expert report sent to the case found that Kılıç was subjected to torture during the 19th Istanbul LGBTI+ Pride March.

Lawyer Süleyman Şahin appears in court. Facing up to 15 years in prison for "being a member of an organization," Şahin stated that the case was aimed at obstructing his legal practice, saying, "the purpose of this case is to distance us from our human rights activities."

Journalist Arapkirli fined for insulting Soylu: 8,840 TL. Journalist Arapkirli was sentenced to 442 days in prison for "insulting a public official" in a case filed following complaints by former Minister of Interior Süleyman Soylu and Commander of the Gendarmerie General Arif Çetin. The sentence was converted to a fine of 8,840 TL.

Prosecutor files additional charges against police officers re-tried for 'unjust detention' of journalist Beyza Kural. In the case seen at the Istanbul 35th Criminal Court of First Instance, the prosecutor expressed the opinion that the defendants, being re-tried, should also be punished for "obstructing work and labor freedom" and "abusing the influence provided by public office to obstruct work activities."

MLSA and Article 19 submit legal opinion to the Court of Cassation regarding the case filed under the "censorship law" against Sinan Aygül. Aygül became the first journalist to be arrested and convicted under the regulation known to the public as the "censorship law," which criminalizes "publicly spreading misleading information," in 2022. Journalist Aygül, sentenced to 10 months in prison for his journalistic activities, had taken the case to the Court of Cassation after an appeal made by the MLSA Legal Unit was rejected. The file is currently at the Court of Cassation, with Aygül's defense conducted by the MLSA Legal Unit.

Journalist Şükran Ekinci gave a statement under the "censorship law" for her Erzincan post. Fatih Aydın from the MLSA Legal Unit accompanied Ekinci during the statement process conducted by the Istanbul Chief Public Prosecutor's Office. Ekinci was investigated under the so-called "censorship law," officially for "spreading misleading information," due to her posts about the number of miners trapped under a landslide in İliç being higher than official figures. In her statement, Ekinci said, "I made the post within the scope of freedom of expression. I absolutely do not accept the accusations against me."

Reporter Nuray Atmaca detained in Dersim. Nuray Atmaca, a correspondent for Pir News Agency in Dersim, was detained after being called to give a statement at the Tunceli Police Department.

February 16, Friday

Up to 5 years in prison sought for Tolga Şardan. According to a report by T24, for which Şardan writes, the Istanbul Chief Public Prosecutor's Office prepared an indictment against Şardan under the "censorship law," known officially as "publicly spreading misleading information" and "insulting the judicial organs of the state."

Pro-government media's targeting of DEM Party Diyarbakır MP Cengiz Candar deemed "freedom of expression." A decision of non-prosecution was made regarding the criminal complaint filed by the MLSA Legal Unit against the websites and for targeting Cengiz Çandar due to his speech in the Parliament. The prosecutor evaluated the news as "freedom of expression." MLSA will appeal the decision.


Medya ve Hukuk Çalışmaları Derneği (MLSA) haber alma hakkı, ifade özgürlüğü ve basın özgürlüğü alanlarında faaliyet yürüten bir sivil toplum kuruluşudur. Derneğimiz başta gazeteciler olmak üzere mesleki faaliyetleri sebebiyle yargılanan kişilere hukuki destek vermektedir.