54 organizations urge once again the Turkish authorities to immediately and unconditionally release news editor, reporter and poet Nedim Türfent, and to overturn his conviction. Today marks 2000 days since he was arrested and subsequently 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 news editor and reporter at the now-closed pro-Kurdish Dicle News Agency (DİHA), Nedim Türfent was detained on 12 May 2016 shortly after reporting on Turkish special police forces’ ill-treatment of Kurdish workers. Soon after his video footage was released, Türfent began receiving death threats from the police and was the target of an online harassment campaign. He was formally charged with ‘membership of a terrorist organisation’ one day after his arrest; the indictment was first produced 10 months later. He spent almost two years in solitary confinement in harrowing detention conditions.

“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, 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”, said Ma Thida, Chair of PEN International’s Writers in Prison Committee.

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.

“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,” said Renan Akyavaş, IPI Turkey Programme Coordinator.

Despite such clear evidence of flagrant fair trial violations, 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.

“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,” said Murat Kök, Media and Law Studies Association (MLSA) Project and Communications Coordinator.

For further details contact:

Renan Akyavaş, Uluslararası Basın Enstitüsü (IPI): rakyavas@ipi.media
Mümtaz Murat Kök, Media and Law Studies Association (MLSA): murat@medyavehukuk.org
Aurélia Dondo, PEN International: Aurelia.dondo@pen-international.org      

SIGNATURES:

International Press Institute (IPI)
Media and Law Studies Association (MLSA)
PEN International
Albanian PEN
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
Human Rights Association (HRA)
IFEX
Index on Censorship
Initiative for Freedom of Expression
Irish PEN/PEN na hÉireann
Kurdish PEN
Montenegrin PEN Center
OBC Transeuropa (OBCT)
PEN America
PEN Bangladesh
PEN Belgium (French-speaking)
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 Centre
Russian PEN
San Miguel de Allende PEN
Slovene PEN
South East Europe Media Organisation (SEEMO)
St Petersburg PEN
Swedish PEN
Turkey Human Rights Litigation Support Project/Türkiye İnsan Hakları Davalarına Destek Projesi
Vietnamese Abroad PEN centre
Wales PEN Cymru