Students most prosecuted in freedom of expression trials in Turkey, report shows

Students constituted the majority of the people who stood trial in the freedom of expression cases in January in Turkey, according to a report released by the Media and Law Studies Association (MLSA).

Duvar English 

A recent report titled ‘Trial Monitoring Report’ by the Media and Law Studies Association (MLSA) shows that Turkish courts prosecuted mostly students in the freedom of expression trials during January 2022 in Turkey.

Accordingly, 332 people were prosecuted in 36 cases in January. Among the 332 people on trial, there were 111 students, 91 activists, 44 journalists, 25 politicians, 7 writers, 4 artists, 3 lawyers and 2 academics.

332 people faced 62 charges in 36 different categories. 44% of the charges were terrorism charges. 93% of the terrorism charges were accusations of "membership in a terrorist organization" and "propaganda for a terrorist organization" against journalists, activists and politicians. 

“24% of the evidence cited for terrorism-related charges the defendants’ news reports, articles, photos and statements on a television show while 21% was social media posts,” the report said.

"Insulting the president" constituted 9% of the charges and 60% of the evidence shown to this accusation was social media posts.

Two journalists, four politicians, and three activists were sentenced to a total of 515 months in prison in the cases where the verdict was heard.

Meanwhile, Journalist Rojhat Doğru was sentenced to life imprisonment for "destroying the unity and integrity of the state", on the grounds that he participated in the Kobane protests in which he was attending as a journalist.

Likewise, Turkey ranked first regarding violations of freedom of expression in 2021, according to the European Court of Human Rights’ (ECHR) annual activity report.