IPI monitoring: At least 227 journalists faced trial in Turkey in 2022

The judicial harassment of journalists in Turkey continued in 2022. Over the course of the year, 227 journalists faced trial and at least 53 of them were sentenced to prison or fined, according to International Press Institute (IPI) data.

The International Press Institute (IPI) published the 2022 annual statistics of its Turkey trial monitoring programme within its FreeTurkeyJournalists campaign. IPI has been closely following trials against journalists in Turkey in recent years as part of its local and international advocacy efforts.

As part of IPI’s trial monitoring, IPI representatives conducted in-person monitoring of several journalists’ trials in different Turkish cities. In addition, IPI has documented developments in more than 130 trials through its own research, complemented by updates from monitoring work done by local CSOs including the Media and Law Studies Association (MLSA), P24, Bianet, and RSF Turkey.

Increase in convictions of journalists

In 2022, IPI documented 282 hearings across 137 separate trials that involved the prosecution of at least 227 journalists. Of those trials, 36 ended in a conviction (in four of them, there was a ruling for both conviction and acquittal).

In total, 53 journalists were convicted, resulting in a cumulative total of 132 years of sentencing and approximately 300,000 Turkish lira (about 15,000 euros) in fines. Twenty-three of those convictions were for terrorism-related charges and five were for insulting the president. These figures represent an increase from 2021, which saw the convictions of 28 journalists and 83 years of sentencing, according to IPI’s statistics.

According to IPI’s data, in 2022, out of the 282 hearings, 25 (9 percent) ended with the acquittal of all defendants and 32 (12 percent) ended with convictions. These figures are also an increase from 2021, when five percent of documented trials ended in a conviction (16 convictions).

In a total of four different cases, the journalists were acquitted of some charges against them and sentenced on other charges in the same case. By far the most common outcome was adjournment: in 78 percent of the hearings (219 hearings), proceedings were adjourned to a later date. Two cases were dismissed.

The 137 individual trials that IPI recorded saw at least 154 charges against journalists, whereby some defendants faced multiple charges. The most common charges were terrorism-related charges, which accounted for 64 cases or about 42 percent of all charges. This was followed by libel or defamation cases brought by politicians, businesspeople, and other powerful figures, accounting for 26 charges or about 17 percent of all charges. Next came charges of insulting the president at about 16 percent of all charges. These three types of charges were also the most common, in the same order, in 2021.