Atilla Taş is a Turkish singer, actor, and journalist born in Ceyhan who has spent his adult life between Istanbul and New York. He is best known as the singer of numerous apolitical pop songs through the 1990s and early 2000s until becoming a television and print journalist. In both his journalism and more recent musical releases, he has been critical of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. Taş has criticized Erdoğan’s regime as authoritarian and Islamist.
Born in 1975, he released his first album in 1998 and appeared in his first film the next year. In the mid-2000s Taş studied film in New York, where he developed an interest in newscasting. He has since continued to record music while writing for the Meydan newspaper and making television news appearances.
In March 2016 Atilla Taş was arrested after posting a tweet critical of Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu. “I feel honored to have been arrested for my ideas,” he said then. “I’m not afraid of anyone.” He was later released without charges.
In the three-month state of emergency declared by President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan following the attempted coup on July 15, 130 media outlets have been shut down by the Turkish government. This includes Meydan, for which Taş wrote, which was shut down and had its top editors arrested on July 21.
Taş’ most recently released song “Hırsız” (Thieves) has been used by activists to protest corruption in Erdoğan’s party.
On September 2, 2016, a second wave of arrests saw Atilla Taş detained. He was charged with knowingly aiding FETÖ, the group blamed by Erdoğan for the July coup.
FETÖ is led by Fethullah Gülen, a preacher and former ally of the president, until he led a 2013 corruption investigation which saw many members of Erdoğan’s party charged. Atilla Taş has not publicly stated membership of any political party.
Taş is currently detained awaiting trial in Istanbul.
It is not uncommon for pretrial detention in Turkey to last for years, and it is often used as a punishment for artists, journalists, and protesters against whom prosecutors cannot build a strong case.
Atilla Taş is currently imprisoned in Istanbul, Turkey. He is still awaiting trial, and due to the arbitrary nature of pretrial detention in Turkey it is impossible to suggest when he will be released.