Free speech in Turkey

Whoever criticizes Erdogan finds themselves in court; Here are the court cases!

We have translated the following text on the current legal environment in Turkey to give context to the case against LGBTI activist Levent Pişkin and the understanding of freedom of expression vs “insult”. Annotations in square brackets are notes by translators for clarity. Exchange rate used is 1 USD = 2.68 TL.

Of the 56 punitive or compensation lawsuits during the January-March 2015 period, 8 were initiated during Erdoğan’s prime ministry and 21 during his presidency, either by his complaint or with the justification that his personal rights were violated. Of the remaining 27, 7 were filed by his son Bilal Erdoğan and 3 were related to the Erdoğan family.


Source: Erol Önderoğlu, “Erdoğan’ı Eleştiren Kendini Mahkemede Buluyor; İşte Davalar!” [“Whoever criticizes Erdogan finds themselves in court; Here are the court cases!”], Bianet, 30 April 2015,

Of the 17 remaining cases, two were initiated by former minister [of Transport, Maritime and Communication] Binali Yıldırım and the others by the Justice and Development Party (AKP), Istanbul Mayor Kadir Topbaş, Ankara Mayor Melih Gökçek, the Adana Mayor, the District Governor of Gerger [a district in the province of Adıyaman], the Ülker Group [a private company owned by Yıldız Holding], the police commissioner, Anadolu Agency [semi-official news agency], and a military colonel.

During the January-March 2015 period, 2 journalists were fined a total of 4,420TL [$1,630], 9 journalists’ cases are in progress, 6 were acquitted, with 2 of those cases being reopened or new charges being brought. A total of 1,520,000 TL [$561,570] of compensation was being demanded from 4 journalists and 2 newspapers.

This data reflects only those cases that were noted by the media and those that Bianet reported on.

Here is the breakdown of these 3 months