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Journalist Tolga Sardan’s Arrest: A Challenge to Press Freedom and Freedom of Expression in Turkey

In Turkiye, T24 writer and experienced journalist Tolga Şardan was arrested on November 1, within the scope of the investigation initiated by the Istanbul Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office, due to his article titled ” Judicial report submitted by MİT to the Presidency”.

Şardan, who was investigated on the charge of ” disseminating misleading information to the public” also known as the “disinformation law”, was detained at his home in Ankara.

In his article, Şardan refers on a report that was submitted to President Tayyip Erdoğan and stated that it contained findings about allegations of corruption in the judiciary. Şardan writes that in the ‘judiciary report’ prepared by MİT upon the request of the presidency, there are two significant sections, with the first one being about the scandalous decisions, procedures, and practices in the courthouses of major cities over the last five to six years.

In a statement on its social media account, the Presidency’s Directorate of Communications Center for Combating Disinformation claimed that there was no such report in the news.

In its post, the Center said, ” His article titled October 31 contains disinformation. “There is no report from the National Intelligence Organization (MİT) as claimed,” he said.

Şardan, who was detained after the search, was taken to the Ankara Courthouse to take his statement via the Audio and Video Information System. The experienced journalist was arrested after his interrogation.

Disinformation Law, which was passed by the Turkish Grand National Assembly and became law in October 2022. According to this article, a person accused of this crime can be sentenced to up to 3 years in prison.

Şardan, who started his career in the locally published Ankara Ulus newspaper in 1988 , worked as a police reporter, Ankara Deputy Representative and columnist in Milliyet newspaper from 1989 to 2018 . 

With his news and articles, he received journalism awards named after Çetin Emeç, Muammer Yaşar Bostancı and Abdi İpekçi since 1992 . In addition, his news stories were awarded by the Contemporary Journalists Association and the Turkish Sports Writers Association . In addition, he became the winner of the 2021 Press Freedom Award given by the Turkish Journalists Association . 

We appeal to the judiciary and all relevant authorities to prioritize the principles of justice, fairness, and human rights, and to take prompt action to secure the release of Tolga Sardan. By doing so, we can work towards building a society that upholds the values of freedom, equality, and the rule of law for all its citizens.

As Rights Defenders, we request that Tolga Sardan be freed from jail immediately.