International press and freedom of expression organizations call for release of journalist Türfent
International press and freedom of expression organizations called for the release of imprisoned journalist Nedim Türfent.
54 organisations urged once again the Turkish authorities to immediately and unconditionally release news editor, reporter and poet Nedim Türfent, and to overturn his conviction.
Dicle News Agency (DIHA) reporter Nedim Türfent has been in prison for 2000 days and sentenced to eight years and nine months in prison on trumped-up terrorism charges following an unfair trial, during which scores of witnesses said they had been tortured into testifying against him.
A note Türfent sent from prison was included in the text of the call. Türfent wrote on 22 October:‘There are so many injustices in our country that I hesitate to make statements on such specific days. On the other hand, it is easier to shine a light on injustices, unlawfulness and unfairness through known examples. This is why I see the 2000 days imprisonment as a symbol of the greater injustice in the country. It is imperative that there should be some sensitivity, not only for my own situation, but also for all prisoners who have been deprived of their freedom because of their opinions and their right to engage in politics. On the occasion of this day, I call upon all national and international rights organizations to show solidarity with all those imprisoned because of their thoughts, words and identities.’
Ma Thida, Chair of PEN International’s Writers in Prison Committee said: “Today marks another painful milestone in Nedim Türfent’s gross miscarriage of justice. That he has now spent 2000 days behind bars simply for doing his job beggars belief. As a first step towards rectifying this injustice, the Turkish authorities must release him immediately and unconditionally and urgently quash his conviction. Türfent’s application before the European Court of Human Rights is still pending, almost three years after being lodged, and we trust that the Court can prioritize the case. The PEN Community stands once again by Türfent and all the writers and journalists wrongfully imprisoned in Turkey and will keep advocating for their freedom until every single one of them is released.”
Among the reasons listed in the indictment were Türfent’s social media posts, his news reporting and 20 concealed witness testimonies. His first hearing was held in Hakkari on 14 June 2017, some 200 km away from Van where he was being detained. He was denied the right to appear physically in court seven times, and instead testified via the judicial conferencing system SEGBİS, experiencing severe connection and interpretation issues. Out of the 20 witnesses called, 19 retracted their statements, saying they had been extracted under torture.
Renan Akyavaş, IPI Turkey Programme Coordinator said:“Today, we pass another milestone of injustice without end for Nedim, punished for his courage as a reporter. Nedim has spent 2000 days behind bars waiting for freedom. 2000 days he should never have lost and can never regain. Hundreds more journalists have been similarly targeted by a judiciary weaponised to silence dissent. We have twice asked the Constitutional Court to prioritize Nedim’s appeal to bring a swift end to this gross violation of rights. We trust that this time they will act.”
Despite such clear evidence of flagrant violations, including of his right to a fair trial, Türfent was sentenced to eight years and nine months in prison for ‘membership of a terrorist organisation’ and ‘spreading terrorist propaganda’ on 15 December 2017. The sentence was approved by the Court of Cassation on 9 May 2020. His application before the Constitutional Court is still pending, more than three years after being lodged. His lawyers appealed to the European Court of Human Rights on 5 February 2019.
Mümtaz Murat Kök, Media and Law Studies Association (MLSA) Projects and Communications Coordinator said: “Nedim has been punished for his journalism which should have been awarded. The injustices that Nedim faces are injustices the majority of Kurdish journalists face in Turkey. That is why we call on every person and institution that sincerely stands for freedom of expression to stand with Nedim.”
The call is signed by the following organisations:
International Press Institute / Uluslararası Basın Enstitüsü (IPI)
Media and Law Studies Association / Medya ve Hukuk Çalışmaları Derneği (MLSA)
Association of European Journalists (AEJ)
Cartoonists Rights Network International (CRNI)
Committee to Protect Journalists
European Centre for Press and Media Freedom (ECPMF)
European Federation of Journalists (EFJ)
Human Rights Association (HRA)/ İnsan Hakları Derneği (IHD)
Index on Censorship
Initiative for Freedom of Expression/ Düşünçe Suçu?!na Karşı Girişim
Irish PEN/PEN na hÉireann
Montenegrin PEN Center
OBC Transeuropa (OBCT)
PEN Belgium (French-speaking)
PEN Centre of Bosnia & Herzegovina
PEN Suisse Romand
Perth PEN Centre
San Miguel de Allende PEN
South East Europe Media Organisation (SEEMO)
St Petersburg PEN
Turkey Human Rights Litigation Support Project/Türkiye İnsan Hakları Davalarına Destek
Vietnamese Abroad PEN centre
Wales PEN Cymru