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Turkish court acquits hip hop artist Ezhel of all charges

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Turkish rapper Ömer Sercan İpekçioğlu, popularly known as Ezhel, was acquitted of charges of encouraging drug use at the first hearing of his trial on Tuesday, the P24 website reported.

During the proceedings heard by the 44th Court of First Instance at Istanbul’s Anadolu Courthouse, the popular hip hop artist answered the accusations in the indictment in reference to a photo he shared on Instagram and the lyrics of his song “Geceler” (Nights).

“I was sitting in the clothing store of a friend in Ankara when we noticed a plant in the garden. We figured out that it was cannabis. We pulled it out and took a photo, and put a caption from the lyrics of a song by [arabesque artist] Selahattin Özdemir in the ’90s,” Ezhel told the court, referring to the song “Veil of Mystery” – making a double entendre in Turkish with the word “mystery,” which also means “weed.” İpekçioğlu added that he didn’t know sharing such a picture would be considered a crime.

İpekçioğlu said his song “Geceler” was written as the soundtrack for a TV series about a fantasy vampire story. “The song’s name is ‘Nights,’ so I tried to tell about the darkness of night in a literary style. I didn’t intend this song to encourage people to use drugs,” he said.

Asked about another of his songs, “Yarınımız yok” (We don’t have a tomorrow), which was not included in the indictment and touches on the negative effects of drugs, Ezhel said the lyrics dealt with the dangers of drugs. “On the contrary, I write lyrics that help young people to hold on to life,” İpekçioğlu said, requesting his acquittal.

The judge said she interpreted İpekçioğlu’s music as a work of art and ruled for his acquittal, to the delight of dozens of fans who were waiting outside the courtroom in support of the artist.

The arrest of the talented artist had stirred a huge outcry, prompting social media campaigns under the hashtag #FreeEzhel calling for his release and the dropping of charges.

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