PEN Melbourne, one of the 147 PEN International centers worldwide whose members defend freedom of expression, has made imprisoned journalist Nedim Türfent an honorary member, Mezopotamya news agency reported on Sept. 22.
Türfent was imprisoned in 2016 after publicizing police harassment of workers in southeastern Turkey. He is currently incarcerated at the Van High Security Prison in eastern Turkey.
Jackie Mansourian, co-director of PEN Melbourne’s Writers-in-Prison program, said that the organization had conveyed its decision to Türfent, which was welcomed by the journalist.
In a statement to PEN Melbourne, Türfent said: “While we are aging on this side of the walls, we have received incredible support from all over the world. We have not forgotten for even one second that this support and solidarity was presented to the freedom of thought.”
“Coming from the farthest point of borders, this honor has erased once and for all the borders that sovereigns are trying to put in between us. I express my gratitude to all members of the PEN because of this meaningful membership,” Türfent wrote.
Türfent was also made an honorary member by English PEN last year.
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 Court of Cassation upheld his sentence. His case is now pending before the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR).