Alaaddin Akkaşoğlu

Beats Covered:
Local or Foreign:

Alaaddin Akkaşoğlu, former owner of the shuttered Kütahya Akis newspaper in the western Turkish city of Kütahya and the website of the defunct national daily Karşı, was arrested in August 2018 and is serving an eight-year, nine-month prison term for allegedly being a member of a terrorist organization.  

Akkaşoğlu founded Kütahya Akis, a newspaper covering local issues in Kütahya, in 2005, according to news reports. Karşı was a left-leaning daily newspaper that published between February and April 2014, before closing due to low circulation and financial problems, according to news reports.

Since 2016, police detained and questioned journalists who worked for Karşı, and imprisoned its former chief editor-turned politician Eren Erdem in 2018.

In a May 7, 2018, indictment by the 23rd Istanbul Court of Serious Crimes, which CPJ reviewed, authorities accused Akkaşoğlu and 10 other people connected to Karşı of using the newspaper to aid the exiled cleric Fethullah Gülen’s Hizmet Movement. The Turkish government accuses Gülen of maintaining a terrorist organization and "parallel state structure" (FETÖ/PDY, as the government calls it) within Turkey and alleges that the group masterminded a failed July 2016 military coup.

On August 2, 2018, the court ordered the arrests of six people including Akkaşoğlu, according to news reports. CPJ could not determine the exact date the journalist was taken into custody. 

Akkaşoğlu’s case was separated from the others, and on August 5, 2018, the 2nd Kütahya Court of Serious Crimes convicted him of membership in a terrorist organization and sentenced him to eight years and nine months in prison, according to news reports.

The conviction was based on allegations that Akkaşoğlu used the encrypted communication app Bylock, which authorities allege is proof of FETÖ/PDY membership; in the 22-page indictment in Akkaşoğlu’s case, which CPJ reviewed, the only allegation against him is in two paragraphs on the final page, which allege that he used that app. 

Akkaşoğlu said he never used that app and had never been a member of that organization, according to those reports. 

The Supreme Court of Appeals upheld that sentencing on June 19, 2019, according to a copy of that verdict, which CPJ also reviewed. 

As of late 2022, CPJ was unable to identify any lawyer representing Akkaşoğlu who could provide updates on his case.

CPJ emailed the Turkish Ministry of Justice in October 2022 for comment but did not receive any reply.