May 22, 2024

22.05.2024 – SEEMO Condemns Sentencing of Journalist Barış Terkoğlu

On 2 May 2024, the 13th High Criminal Court in Istanbul, Türkiye / Turkey sentenced journalist Barış Terkoğlu (@baristerkoglu), born 1980, to two years in prison according to Article 6.1 of the Anti-terror Law No. 3713 for “targeting individuals involved in counterterrorism efforts”. This conviction stems from articles published on the OdaTV ( news website and in the Cumhuriyet ( newspaper in the year 2020. Terkoğlu was accused of targeting a judge in both reports. The judge was later appointed to a deputy justice minister.

At the final hearing, the prosecutor reiterated the request for Terkoğlu’s sentencing based on the charge of “marking those assigned with the fight against terrorism as targets.” Terkoğlu, defending himself, emphasized that his role as the newsroom director at OdaTV did not entail criminal responsibility for the content sourced from a news agency. He argued that his criticism was a legitimate exercise of his journalistic duties, distinct from targeting individuals.

Terkoğlu’s defense highlighted that public officials should be subject to criticism without being shielded by laws that stifle such scrutiny. The articles were critical analyses. His lawyers requested his acquittal, arguing that Terkoğlu did not act with the special intent required for the alleged crime and that his criticism was within his rights as a journalist.

Despite the defense, the court found Terkoğlu guilty, sentencing him to two years in prison without any sentence reduction, citing his demeanor and perceived lack of remorse. This ruling came after Terkoğlu’s publication of articles on 14 October 2020, on OdaTV and 15 October 2020, in Cumhuriyet (

Terkoğlu, who is also a writer, worked in the past for CNN Turk and was news director at OdaTV until 2021. Currently, he hosts the program “Sözüm Var” on Halk TV with Şirin Payzın and Emin Çapa and has his YouTube channel called “B Side”

It is not the first time that he is part of a legal process. He was detained in February 2011, after a search in the newsroom. After four days in custody, he was officially arrested. He appeared before the judge 9 months after his arrest. During the investigation his representatives informed the public, that the digital documents that form the basis of the indictment were uploaded to the computers of the journalist through hacking. The hacker attack was proven by three different Turkish universities and an foreign IT company. Terkoğlu was released in September 2012.

Again he was arrested in March 2020 after a request from the prosecutor’s office within the scope of the investigation regarding the publication of the news on OdaTV about the funeral of a member of the Millî İstihbarat Teşkilâtı (MIT) – Turkish intelligence organization, who died in Libya. He was released at the second hearing of the case in September 2020.

The South East Europe Media Organisation (SEEMO) condemns the sentencing of journalist Barış Terkoğlu, who was unjustly sentenced to two years in prison for allegedly “marking those assigned with the fight against terrorism as targets.” Terkoğlu’s conviction, based on his legitimate journalistic critique of judicial figures, represents a serious violation of press freedom and a troubling effort to stifle critical reporting in Türkiye / Turkey. SEEMO calls on Turkish authorities to respect the principles of free expression and press freedom, and to overturn this unjust ruling against Terkoğlu.

South East Europe Media Organisation (SEEMO) is a regional non-governmental, non profit network of editors, media executives and leading journalists in Southeast, South, East and Central Europe. SEEMO members are in Albania, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Estonia, Georgia, Greece, Hungary, Kazakhstan, Kosovo, Kyrgyzstan, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Moldova (with the territory of Transdnestria), Montenegro, North Macedonia, Poland, Romania, Russia, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Türkiye / Turkey, Ukraine and Uzbekistan. Austria, Italy, Vatican and San Marino have a special status in SEEMO. SEEMO has over 3000 individual members, and additional media as corporate members.

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