International media and freedom of expression organisations have called on the Turkish government for the release of Nedim Türfent, a reporter for the Dicle News Agency (DİHA), who has been imprisoned in Van High-Security Closed Prison for 2,000 days now for reporting about torture in Turkey. The call, which includes 54 signatories, called for Türfent’s immediate and unconditional release from prison and the overturning of his conviction.
Türfent is a Kurdish journalist from Hakkari (Colemêrg). In April 2016, he was detained after sharing images of more than 40 Turkish and Kurdish workers being handcuffed behind their backs and laid in lines on the ground and abused by Turkish special police forces.
Immediately after the images were released, Nedim received death threats from the Turkish police. Then, in April, an online harassment campaign was launched against Nedim from suspicious accounts sending him death threats, insults, and messages asking where he was from.
He was then arrested on May 12, 2016, and charged with “membership of a terrorist organisation” under the Anti-Terror Law of Turkey. The indictment was issued 13 months after his arrest, and Nedim had been in prison for 399 days before his first trial was held on June 14, 2017.
‘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.” said Ma Thida, Chair of PEN International Writers in Prison Committee for Nedim Turfent. She added that Türfent’s application before the European Court of Human Rights is still pending, and that the court should prioritise the case.
“The PEN Community stands once again by Türfent and all writers and journalists wrongfully imprisoned in Turkey and will keep advocating for their freedom until every single one of them is released’” she said.
Renan Akyavaş, the Turkey Programme Coordinator at the International Press Institute (IPI), also called for the application to the Constitutional Court to be processed in Turkey.
“Nedim has spent 2000 days behind bars waiting for his freedom. 2000 days he should never have lost in the first place and that he 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 prioritise Nedim’s appeal to bring a swift end to this gross violation of rights. We trust that this time they will act,’ said Renan Akyavaş.
Murat Kök, Project and Communication Coordinator of the Association for Media and Law Studies (MLSA), also pointed out that journalists who should be given awards are instead punished.
“The injustices that Nedim is being subjected to are the injustices suffered by the vast majority of Kurdish journalists in Turkey. Therefore, we sincerely invite all individuals and institutions that defend freedom of expression to stand in solidarity with Nedim,” he said.
Türfent’s message was also included within the statement of the 54 organisations, In a letter he sent on 22 October from prison, he said:
‘As there are so many injustices in our country that I hesitate to make statements on such specific cases. 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. There must be some sensitivity, not only for my 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 organisations to show solidarity with all those imprisoned because of their thoughts, words, and identities.’
The signatories of the call are as follows:
ARTICLE 19, Articolo 21, Association of European Journalists (AEJ), Cartoonists Rights Network International (CRNI), Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), Croatian PEN, Danish PEN, English PEN, European Centre for Press and Media Freedom (ECPMF), European Federation of Journalists (EFJ), French PEN, German PEN, İnsan Hakları Derneği (İHD), IFEX, Index on Censorship, Düşünçe Suçu, Karşı Girişim, Irish PEN, Kurdish PEN, Montenegrin PEN Center, OBC Transeuropa (OBCT), PEN America, PEN Bangladesh, PEN Belgium, PEN Centre of Bosnia & Herzegovina, PEN Esperanto, PEN Estonia, PEN Georgia, PEN Iraq, PEN Latvia, PEN Malta, PEN Melbourne, PEN Moscow, PEN Netherlands, PEN Norway, PEN Portugal, PEN Québec, PEN Romania, PEN Suisse Romand, PEN Trieste, PEN Turkey, Perth PEN, CentreRussian PEN, San Miguel de Allende PEN, Slovene PEN, South East Europe Media Organisation (SEEMO), St Petersburg PEN, Swedish PEN, Türkiye İnsan Hakları Davalarına Destek Projesi, Vietnamese Abroad PEN centre, Wales PEN Cymru.