Turkish journalist İbrahim Haskoloğlu arrested over coverage of alleged hacking

Turkish journalist İbrahim Haskoloğlu was recently arrested over his coverage of the alleged hacking of government databases. (Screenshot: İbrahim Haskologlu/YouTube)

Istanbul, April 20, 2022 – Turkish authorities should release journalist İbrahim Haskoloğlu immediately and drop any charges against him, the Committee to Protect Journalists said Wednesday.

On the night of Monday, April 18, police in Istanbul arrested Haskoloğlu, a freelance journalist, for allegedly “illegally obtaining and spreading personal information,” according to multiple news reports. Authorities placed Haskoloğlu in pretrial detention on Tuesday, according to those reports, which said a court date had not been set for his case.

The journalist was detained in response to a complaint filed by the Turkish Interior Ministry over a Twitter thread he published on April 12 in which he claimed to be in touch with hackers who had allegedly accessed government documents connected to President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, Intelligence Chief Hakan Fidan, and other Turkish citizens.

“Turkish authorities should be more concerned with the alleged hacking of government databases than the journalists who are covering it,” said CPJ Program Director Carlos Martinez de la Serna, in New York. “Members of the press cannot do their jobs properly in an environment in which they can face detention over journalistic posts on social media. Authorities should immediately release İbrahim Haskoloğlu and stop harassing journalists.”

Haskoloğlu is a freelance journalist who covers local and international politics and sports on Twitter, where he has about 540,000 followers, Instagram, with about 100,000 followers, and YouTube, with 79,000 followers.

In his Twitter thread, Haskoloğlu posted photos purporting to be hacked copies of Erdoğan and Fidan’s government identity cards with their personal information redacted, saying that the hackers provided them to prove that they had accessed government databases containing ID cards, college diplomas, financial information, and other data.

He wrote that the hackers had contacted him two months ago and that he had notified authorities at the time. Those news reports said that authorities accused Haskoloğlu of failing to also notify the prosecutor’s office.

When CPJ called Haskoloğlu’s lawyer Emrah Karatay, he confirmed his client was arrested in response to that Twitter thread, and noted that journalist had not actually shared Erdoğan or Fidan’s personal information as those parts of the images were redacted.

CPJ emailed the Interior Ministry of Turkey for comment but did not immediately receive any reply.