Forty-five prominent rights groups have renewed their calls for Turkish journalist Nedim Türfent’s immediate and unconditional release, ahead of his 1,500th day in jail. Among the organizations that signed the joint declaration are the International Press Institute (IPI), PEN International and Media and Law Studies Association (MLSA).
Türfent, who was predominantly reporting on the Kurdish issues, was detained on May 12, 2016, shortly after reporting on Turkish special police forces’ ill-treatment of around 40 Turkish and Kurdish workers.
Türfent was sentenced to eight years and nine months in prison on “terrorism charges” in 2017 and two years later, the Supreme Court of Cassation upheld his sentence. His case is now pending before the European Court of Human Rights.
“June 21 marks 1,500 days that Türfent has spent behind bars, deprived of his freedom and the right to practice his profession – journalism. Imprisoning journalists has long since become the preferred shortcut of Turkey’s authorities to punish news they find “disturbing”. Show trials of journalists under “anti-terror law” and continued repression of especially pro-Kurdish media outlets created an immense pressure and chilling effect on the journalists who report from the Kurdish-populated areas in Turkey,” said the rights groups’ joint statement.
“Nedim Türfent should never have been detained in the first place, yet today we mark his 1500th day behind bars in this gross miscarriage of justice. Evidently, he is imprisoned for simply doing his job as a journalist, and he must be released, unconditionally and without delay,” Salil Tripathi, Chair of PEN International’s Writers in Prison Committee said.
IPI Deputy Director Scott Griffen said: “For the ‘crime’ of doing journalism, Nedim Türfent has now spent 1,500 days in prison. He has been harassed, targeted, threatened and deprived of his freedom. Turkey must end this injustice and release Nedim immediately as well as all other journalists in Turkey jailed for doing their jobs.”