13 June 2017 – The prolonged solitary confinement of Nedim Türfent is an act of cruelty and must end immediately, PEN International said today, as the journalist is due to stand trial on 14 June.
Nedim Türfent, a news editor and reporter at the Dicle News Agency (DİHA), has been detained since 12 May 2016 and charged with “membership of a terrorist organisation” and “making terrorist propaganda.” Prior to his arrest, Türfent was covering clashes between the Turkish army and the armed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) in the predominantly Kurdish Southeast of the country. He had recently received the prestigious Musa Anter journalism award for a story covering a military operation in the Kurdish city of Yüksekova, where a group of soldiers reportedly handcuffed and pinned 50 villagers face down, yelling slurs such as “you will witness the might of the Turk”, the title of his news piece.
Nedim Türfent is one of 11 DİHA reporters currently being detained, eight of whom were arrested before the coup attempt on 15 July 2016. Among the reasons for his arrest are his social media posts, his news reporting and 20 concealed witness testimonies. Out of the 23-page indictment, 17 are dedicated to listing the foundation and structure of the PKK. He is due to stand trial on 14 June in Hakkari. PEN International believes that he is being held solely for the peaceful exercise of his right to freedom of expression.
“Türfent’s trial highlights the significance of the arrests made before the coup attempt, especially as the Turkish authorities seek to justify their relentless crackdown since the coup attempt on security grounds” said Salil Tripathi, Chair of PEN International’s Writers in Prison Committee. “It is crucial to remember that freedom of expression in Turkey has long been under attack and that as many as 30 journalists were languishing in prison before the coup attempt. The numbers have only grown since. Türfent should be released at once.”
Nedim Türfent has already spent 13 months in solitary confinement and has been transferred to several prisons. In a letter addressed to Turkish columnists and dated 8 May 2017, Nedim Türfent reports harrowing detention conditions in his four-meter-long prison cell, where he is denied access to TV, radio, books or newspapers and forced to read “the back of detergent boxes” to pass time. According to the UN Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners, prolonged solitary confinement amounts to torture or other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment and must not be imposed under any circumstances.
PEN International calls on the Turkish authorities to end the prolonged solitary confinement of Nedim Türfent and to release him immediately. The organisation further calls on the authorities to immediately release all those held in prison for exercising their rights to freedom of opinion and expression, to end the prosecutions and detention of journalists simply on the basis of the content of their journalism or alleged affiliations and to end the state of emergency.
Send a message of support:
Please consider sending letters or postcards in a show of support and solidarity addressed to Nedim Türfent, who is currently being held in Van High Security Prison:
Van Yüksek Güvenlikli Kapalı Ceza İnfaz Kurumu
Abdurrahman Gazi, Km, İpek Yolu Cd
Fax: (+90) 04322263012
For further details contact Aurélia Dondo at PEN International, Koops Mill, 162-164 Abbey Street, London, SE1 2AN, UK Tel: +44 (0) 20 7405 0338 Fax +44 (0) 20 7405 0339 e-mail: Aurelia.firstname.lastname@example.org