During the first four months of 2021, a total of 213 journalists stood trial; 20 journalists were sentenced to a combined 57 years and 10 months in prison. By the end of April, at least 68 journalists were in prison.

Expression Interrupted, a project undertaken by the P24 Platform for Independent Journalism, presents the first of its regular Freedom of Expression and the Press Agenda reports. Compiled using trial monitoring data and information available in open sources, our report covers the free speech agenda in Turkey during the first four months of 2021 with a particular focus on press freedom.

The report asserts that despite President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s pledge that 2021 would be a “year of reform” and the announcement of the government’s Human Rights Action Plan.

Noting that the deterioration in press freedom and freedom of expression in Turkey, which particularly worsened in the aftermath of the attempted coup of 2016 and the subsequent declaration of a state of emergency (OHAL), continued unabated in 2021, the report underlines that according to 2020 statistics issued by the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR), Turkey ranked first among Council of Europe member states in terms of violations of the right to freedom of expression (enshrined in Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights) in 2020; as well as ranking 153rd among 180 countries in the 2021 World Press Freedom Index compiled annually by Reporters Without Borders (RSF).