An International Battle Heats Up To Free A Turkish Rapper Accused Of Promoting Drugs

Ezhel is a popular Turkish rapper, known for his hit song “Geceler” which has been streamed more than 10 million times on Spotify.
The rapper, born Sercan İpekcioğlu, released his debut album Müptezhel in 2017 and has been under fire ever since.

On May 23, Ezhel was detained after a second round of questioning over drug promotion allegations. He was remanded in prison on the same day and is currently held at Maltepe prison in Istanbul.
Ezhel was previously detained and released after questioning in December 2017 amidst a similar investigation but was summoned again in May by police after a separate complaint was submitted to the Prime Ministry’s [Online] Communication Centre by a private citizen.
If prosecuted and convicted, Ezhel could face up to ten years in prison.
Ezhel is a prominent figure on the Turkish rap scene and is known for his dark depictions of street life in urban Turkey.

He was questioned over two songs which refer to the use of cannabis and a now deleted social media post displaying a photograph of the rapper holding a cannabis leaf.
The court decision to remand Ezhel in prison contained no material evidence that he has actively promoted the use of drugs.
According to Amnesty International, Ezhel’s detention is in violation of his right to freedom of expression, as protected under Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and Article 10 of the European Convention of Human Rights (ECHR) to which Turkey is a state party.
The organization is calling upon Turkish authorities to:

■ Ensure that Sercan İpekcioğlu (Ezhel) is released immediately and unconditionally as he has been detained solely for the peaceful exercise of his right to freedom of expression and that any ongoing investigations in relation to his legitimate artistic expression and social media posts are closed;

■ Fully respect and protect the peaceful exercise of the right to freedom of expression in Turkey