Turkey: Press freedom violations October 2019
28 Nov 2019

Index on Censorship’s Monitoring and Advocating for Media Freedom project tracks press freedom violations in five countries: Azerbaijan, Belarus, Russia, Turkey and Ukraine. Learn more.

10 Incidents

Journalist Emre Orman detained over social media posts

24 October 2019 – Journalist Emre Orman, a reporter for Net news agency, was arrested in Istanbul and subsequently jailed pending trial on the charge of “spreading propaganda for a terrorist organization” on account of his social media posts, Evrensel reported.

Orman was arrested on 23 October 2019 and sent to pre-trial detention after giving a statement to a prosecutor at Istanbul’s Anadolu Courthouse on 24 October.


 1 November 2019 – According to Bianet, Orman was released from detention on 31 October.


Categories: Arrest / Detention / Interrogation

Source of violation: Police / State security

Human rights lawyer and former Özgür Gündem editor-in-chief Eren Keskin’s house raided by police

22 October 2019 – Police raided the house of Eren Keskin, a prominent human rights defender and co-chairperson of the Human Rights Association (İHD), Mezopotamya news agency reported. Keskin has been prosecuted more than a hundred times for her symbolic support for the shuttered pro-Kurdish newspaper Özgür Gündem.

Keskin was not at home during the late-night raid. She testified to a prosecutor the following day, responding to accusations that she was “spreading propaganda for a terrorist organization” in her social media posts. Keskin was released without judicial control measures.


Categories: Arrest / Detention / Interrogation

Source of violation: Police / State security

Journalist Özlem Oral briefly detained

On 10 October, President Erdoğan threatened that he would “open the gates” to the EU if they called his military operation an “invasion”.

20 October 2019 – Özlem Oral, a reporter for the left-wing Mücadele Birliği newspaper, was arrested during a police raid on her home on 19 October, Mezopotamya news agency reported. Oral was accused of “disseminating propaganda for a terrorist organization” and “inciting the public to hatred and animosity” for her social media posts about Turkey’s military operation in Syria. She was referred to the courthouse on 20 October and was subsequently released under a travel ban and has been ordered to report to the police station once a week.


Categories: Arrest / Detention / Interrogation

Source of violation: Police / State security


Nurcan Baysal’s house raided by police

19 October 2019 – Police carried out an early morning raid on columnist and T24 contributor Nurcan Baysal’s home in the southeastern city of Diyarbakır. Announcing the incident on Twitter, Baysal said that she was abroad when the raid took place, and therefore she was not arrested, but her two children were at home at the time of the raid. Baysal said that she believed the raid to have been in connection with her social media posts.


Categories: Arrest / Detention / Interrogation

Source of violation: Police / State security


Journalist Tuğba Özer ordered to pay compensation over report

17 October 2019 – Tuğba Özer, an editor for Cumhuriyet daily, was ordered to pay 5,000 Turkish lira (around $875) in compensation over a news report, Bianet reported. The lawsuit was overseen by the 23rd Civil Court of First Instance of Istanbul.

The lawsuit was filed by the conservative and Islamist İHH Humanitarian Relief Foundation over Özer’s report about an elementary school teacher volunteering for İHH. Özer reported that the teacher had made his students pose for a picture as they held pieces of rope symbolizing the executioner’s rope and shared these pictures on social media.

The picture was posted at a time when President Erdoğan was reigniting the debate on bringing back the death penalty. The report says that the teacher shared the picture in which he is seen showing the rope on his social media account, saying “Either the state should take the lead or the raven will hover over the dead. President! We want justice.” The message came after a terrorist attack near the Inönü stadium in Istanbul’s central neighborhood of Beşiktaş killed 48 people, mostly police officers. In another social media message the teacher is seen forcing his students to make a military salute in the classroom. The teacher was suspended after the report caused a wide outcry.


Categories: Criminal Charges / Fines / Sentences

Source of violation: Court / Judicial


BirGün editor Hakan Demir briefly detained over report on military operation

10 October 2019 – Hakan Demir, editor of the website of BirGün daily, was taken into custody during an early morning police raid on his Istanbul home, Bianet reported.

The grounds for Demir’s arrest was “the way in which a news item posted on the newspaper’s online edition was shared on Twitter.” The report referred to the military operation launched by the Turkish military in Syria on 9 October.

Demir was referred to the courthouse later in the day. The 13th Criminal Judgeship of Peace ruled to release the journalist under an international travel ban.


Categories: Criminal Charges / Fines / Sentences

Source of violation: Police / State security


Diken’s news editor Fatih Gökhan Diler detained for “inciting hatred”

10 October 2019 – The managing editor of the news portal Diken, Fatih Gökhan Diler, was arrested at Diken’s offices in Istanbul, the website reported. Diler was eventually released under a travel ban by the Criminal Judgeship of Peace.

Diler was reportedly detained as part of an investigation on the allegation of “incitement of hatred and animosity” in a news story published by Diken that featured a statement by the speaker of the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF). The Turkish military launched an operation in Syria on 9 October, mostly targeting Kurdish forces controlling the border.


Categories: Criminal Charges / Fines / Sentences

Source of violation: Police / State security


JinNews reporter Beritan Canözer’s home raided by police over her social media posts

10 October 2019 – Reporter Beritan Canözer of the Diyarbakır-based pro-Kurdish and feminist news website JinNews had her home raided by police, Bianet reported. During the raid, police confiscated several magazines and newspapers they found in her apartment.

Police officers informed Canözer’s sibling, who was alone in the apartment when the police came, that the journalist was being summoned to the Diyarbakır Police Department to give her statement in connection with her social media posts.


Categories: Criminal Charges / Fines / Sentences

Source of violation: Police / State security


Broadcasts denigrating Syria operation to be ‘silenced’, TV watchdog said

10 October 2019 – Turkey’s TV watchdog, the Radio and Television Supreme Council (RTÜK), released a statement warning that any broadcast that endorsed terrorism and misled citizens with “false, incomplete or biased information” would be silenced, Andolu Agency reported. Turkey’s military launched an operation named Peace Spring on 9 October in northern Syria, targeting the Kurdish groups controlling the border.

While thanking broadcasters for “meeting society’s need of being informed with accurate information and contributing to national unity and togetherness,” RTÜK said it would not tolerate negative coverage of the operation. In the statement, RTÜK said that divisive and destructive broadcasts against Operation Peace Spring, published with the support of the [PKK] terrorist organization, are being swiftly identified and silenced with the support of other state institutions.


Categories: Censorship – Other Serious Issues

Source of violation: Government / State Agency / Public official(s) / Political party


Evrensel columnist faces investigation for column about First Lady

7 October 2019 – Evrensel writer Ender İmrek is facing an investigation over a column he wrote about First Lady Emine Erdoğan, the newspaper reported.

First Lady Emine Erdoğan

The column titled “The Hermes bag was shining brightly” criticized the First Lady’s ostentatious display of wealth.

In a Twitter post, Imrek said he was called to testify at the police station over his column.


Categories: Arrest / Detention / Interrogation

Source of violation: Police / State security

In a country that keeps its media under a dome, Belarus’s independent journalists face mounting fines

On the surface, Belarus is one of the quieter places for journalists – one rarely hears about gruesome violations, physical assaults or murders of media workers in this post-Soviet country. But a lack of horror stories does not mean there is a liberal policy towards the media. In 2017, Belarus scored 83 points out of [...]

Organisations call on Russia to end targeting of journalists covering Moscow protests

A coalition of eight media freedom and journalists’ organisations are calling on Russian authorities to immediately stop the harassment of journalists who have been covering the recent protests in Moscow.

Trolls and insults: Azerbaijan’s exiled media increasingly under fire

After the total capture of the media environment inside the country, the government of Ilham Aliyev has turned its attention to silencing critics in exile.

Russia: As space for independent media shrinks, journalists find themselves under increasing threats of physical violence

This report looks at 175 incidents that Index on Censorship’s Monitoring and Advocating for Media Freedom project classified as threats, limitations or violations of press freedom in Russia between 1 February 2019 and 30 April 2019.

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