Türfent, a photojournalist with the now-shuttered Dicle News Agency, was arrested on May 12, 2016 following his journalistic coverage of a Turkish military operation against a group of Kurdish workers.
The article in question and the accompanying photographs showed around 50 Kurdish construction workers being handcuffed and made to lie on the ground, after which Turkish special operations officers shouted at them: “Now you will see the power of the Turk.”
In December 2017, Türfent was sentenced to eight years and nine months in prison, officially on charges of “membership in a terrorist organization”. Tellingly, the court said that it had been “disturbed” by Türfent’s articles.
Held in solitary confinement for almost two years, Türfent was transferred between six different prisons over the course of his trial. The International Press Institute (IPI) believes that this extensive pre-trial detention and the fact that Türfent was denied the right to appear before a judge in person at any of the six hearings in his case constitute a clear infringement of Türfent’s right to liberty and right to a fair trial under articles 5 and 6 of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR).
Notably, Türfent was unable to face any of the witnesses against him, 18 of whom testified that they had been tortured to extract incriminating statements.
Read more on Nedim Türfent:
One trial, countless injustices (EN/DE/TR)
IPI to jailed journalist Nedim Türfent: Stay strong (EN/TR)
Barred from personally attending his hearings, Türfent participated in proceedings via the judicial conferencing system SEGBİS. He told IPI in a letter that on the occasions when he tried to give evidence in his native language of Kurmanji Kurdish, the interpreter, who was unable to hear him properly due to technical issues with SEGBİS, repeated stock phrases and made serious errors in translation.
One of the many victims of Turkey’s assault on press freedom, Türfent spends the time in his cell studying Turkish, English and German and writing poetry.
As IPI continues to raise awareness of the gross violations of justice in Türfent’s case and works to secure his release, Türfent has requested reading material to keep him in touch with the outside world. Based on his preferences, IPI is providing Türfent with a subscription to The Guardian Weekly, which will be delivered to his prison cell.
In a recent letter to his lawyers Türfent wrote: “As of today I’ve been locked up for 744 days. How easy it trips off the tongue. Never mind, I am hopeful and I persevere. You are the ones who make me resolute; it is your solidarity that keeps me going.”