International press groups on June 15 urged Turkey to release Kurdish journalist Nedim Türfent from prison ahead of June 21 that marks his 1,500th day behind bars.
The International Press Institute (IPI), PEN International, Media and Law Studies Association (MLSA) and 42 organizations renewed their call for Türfent’s immediate and unconditional release.
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 in the southeastern city of Hakkari in spring 2016.
A day after his arrest on May 13, 2016, Türfent was charged with “membership of a terrorist organization.” The indictment was first produced 13 months after his arrest, at the first hearing on June 14, 2017. By that time, Türfent had already been jailed for 399 days.
Of the 20 witnesses called in the ensuing trial, 19 said that their initial statements against Türfent had been obtained under torture. Yet the court sentenced him to eight years and nine months in prison in December 2017.
On May 21, 2019, Turkey’s 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,” press groups said in their statement.
“We call on Turkish authorities once again to stop this injustice!” they added.
The signatory organizations call for an action to sign on to this statement.
“Show solidarity with Nedim by sending him your support messages so he knows that he is not alone in this injustice,” they said.
MLSA has also published the poetry book of Nedim which is now available for free online.
The letter can be signed here.
A message of solidarity can be sent to Türfent here.
Türfent’s poetry book can be read here.