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19 June

Hip hop artist Ezhel acquitted and freed

Popular hip hop artist Ezhel who was under arrest since May 24 has been acquitted in the first hearing of his trial

 
Ömer Sercan İpekçioğlu, known by his artist name of Ezhel, was acquitted from the charges of “encouraging drug use” in the first hearing of his trial on June 19. During the hearing overseen by the 44th Court of First Instance of 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 at 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, as the caption of which I wrote 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 didn’t know sharing such a picture would be considered a crime.

İpekçioğlu said his song “Geceler” was written as a soundtrack to a TV series about a fantasy vampire story. “The song’s name is ‘nights’, so I tried to tell about the darkness of nights with a literary style as much as I could. I don’t intend in this song to encourage people to use drugs,” he said.
 
Lyrics to ‘hold on to life’
Asked about another of his songs, “Yarınımız yok” (“We don’t have a tomorrow”), which wasn’t 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, demanding his acquittal.

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