The judicial harassment of journalists in Turkey continued in 2023. Over the course of the year, 207 journalists faced trial and at least 22 of them were sentenced to prison or fined, according to International Press Institute (IPI) data. Meanwhile, the cycle of never-ending harassment moves into 2023 with eighty-two percent of open cases adjourned to 2024.


IPI today published the 2023 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. IPI has documented developments through its own research, complemented by updates from news outlets and monitoring work done by local CSOs including the Media and Law Studies Association (MLSA), P24 and RSF Turkey.

See IPI representatives’ trial monitoring blogs here.

Increase in convictions of journalists

In 2023, IPI documented 304 hearings across 142 separate trials that involved the prosecution of at least 207 journalists. Of those trials, 18 ended in a conviction (in one of them, there was a ruling for both conviction and acquittal).

In total, 22 journalists were convicted, resulting in a cumulative total of 24.5 years of sentencing and approximately 70,000 Turkish lira (about 2,200 euros) in fines. Five of those convictions were for terrorism-related charges and six were for other charges including “targeting public officials”, “defying the law on demonstrations” and “praising and offense or an offender”. These figures represent a positive decline from 2022, which saw the convictions of 53 journalists and 132 years of sentencing, according to IPI’s statistics.

According to IPI’s data, in 2023, out of the 304 hearings, 31(10 percent) ended with the acquittal of all defendants and 19 (6 percent) ended with convictions. These figures are also a decline from 2022, when twelve percent of documented trials ended in a conviction (32 convictions).

In one case, the journalist (Yetkin Yıldız) acquitted a charge against him (slander) and sentenced on other charge (insult) in the same case. By far the most common outcome was adjournment: in 82 percent of the hearings (248 hearings) proceedings were adjourned to a later date. Six cases were dismissed.

The 142 individual trials that IPI recorded saw at least 151 charges against journalists, whereby some defendants faced multiple charges. The most common charges were terrorism-related charges, which accounted for 48 cases or about 32 percent of all charges. This was followed by libel or defamation cases brought by politicians, businesspeople, and other powerful figures, accounting for 34 charges or about 23 percent of all charges. Next came charges of insulting the president at about 20 percent of all charges.  These three types of charges were also the most common, in the same order, in 2022 and in 2021.

Solidarity for journalists on trial

IPI sends out a monthly update of its trials calendar and trial monitoring data to a wide list of civil society and diplomatic institutions in Turkey. In the form of factsheets, these updates also encourage diplomatic representatives to monitor and take collective action to show support for journalists on trial, especially in the case of hearings taking place outside of Turkey’s major cities. You can find the factsheets here.

IPI’s trial monitoring figures represent our documentation of known cases. However, these figures may not represent the full extent of the judicial harassment of journalists in Turkey in 2023, given the sheer number of cases brought against the press. See the full categorization defined by IPI below.