Turkish rap artist Ezhel acquitted in drug case
Ömer Sercan İpekçioğlu, better known by his stage name Ezhel, was arrested on May 24 by anti-narcotics police after complaints were filed to the Prime Minister’s Office regarding Ezhel’s YouTube channel.
The indictment, which was accepted by the court on June 4, cited lyrics of Ezhel’s songs, such as “The brighter the lights, under the influence of marijuana, taking puffs,” as encouraging young people to use drugs.
It also cited a picture showing Ezhel with the outlawed cannabis sativa plant which was shared on his Twitter account, asking the court to punish him with five to 10 years in prison.
The 44th Criminal Court of First Instance on June 19 issued its verdict in the first hearing and acquitted Ezhel, who has been under arrest for almost a month.
Ezhel had defended himself by stating that he was not aware that he committed a crime with pictures and lyrics.
His arrest had led to widespread outcry in Turkey, with many supporters making the hashtag “#FreeEzhel” a trending topic on Twitter and other Turkish musicians expressing support to him. Many have said Ezhel’s arrest was an attempt to censor his critical voice.
Born and raised in the Turkish capital Ankara, Ezhel made the ghettos of the city central features of his rap music. He defines his music style as “Anatolian Urban Core/Hip-Hop/Reggae-Dub/Trap.”