RAN 10/11 update # 2 13 March 2012
The Writers in Prison Committee of PEN International is delighted at the news of the release yesterday of writers Nedim Şener and Ahmet Şık, after over a year in prison. However the trial against them will continue, a process that can last for months, even years. PEN International remains concerned that they face conviction and long imprisonment on charges breach international standards protecting the right to freedom of expression.
On 12 March 2012, the Istanbul 16th High Criminal Court ordered the release pending trial of Şener and Şık, alongside two other television journalists being tried in the same case. Six others similarly accused, will remain detained. Judge Mehmet Ekinci ruled that the four should be freed due to the “possibility of change of the quality of crime” and in light of the fact they the defendants have already served more than a year in prison. The next hearing will be on 18 June. For more on yesterday’s hearing see Bianet, Journalists Sik and Sener Released.
Nedim Şener , was tried and acquitted in 2010 for his book implicating the Turkish security forces in the 2007 murder of the Turkish Armenian newspaper editor, Hrant Dink. He has since written two other books on related issues Red Friday – Who Broke Dink’s Pen? and Fetullah Gülen and the Gülen Community in Ergenekon Documents. The Gülen movement is an Islamic organisation that promotes inter-faith dialogue. It is thought that Şener’s arrest is linked to his research into suggestions that the movement holds undue influence in the Ergenekon investigation.
Police are said to have seized the draft manuscript of a book by, Ahmet Şık, who, like Şener, is the author of books investigating Ergenekon. He too is said to have looked into the alleged affiliation of police to the Gülen movement. He is already on trial for two books on Ergenekon, co-authored with journalist Ertugrul Maviolgu, that opened in October 2010 and for which, if convicted, he faces over four years in prison. The writers are accused of divulging state secrets.
(See previous PEN alert on this case)
Comments by leading Turkish government members responding to references that scores, possibly over 100, journalists are detained in Turkey reveal an increasing antipathy towards journalists and a disregard for international concerns that the situation for free expression is deteriorating. Recently Egemen Bagis, Turkish minister for EU Affairs, in an interview with BBC World News ‘Hard Talk’ where he denied that journalists are detained for their writings, stating that there are “no intellectuals behind any bar in any country” and suggesting that those held in Turkey are criminals. As well Sener and Sik, PEN is campaigning for the release of publisher Ragip Zarakolu, his son Deniz Zarakolu, academic Büsra Ersanli, translator Ayse Berktas and others clearly held in violation of their rights to peaceful free expression and association. Read more here. PEN is also investigating the cases of scores of other journalists held in Turkey, and a monitoring similar number of others on trial.
For more information go to:
For commentary on numbers of detained journalists read this New Yorker blog.
Welcoming the release pending trial of Ahmet Şık and Nedim Şener but expressing concern that the trial against them continues, and;
Referring to concerns that the two men are being prosecuted on charges that contravene their right to freedom of expression as guaranteed under Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights.
Send appeals to:
Mr Sadullah Ergin
Minister of Justice
Fax: 00 90 312 419 3370
Also to the Turkish ambassador in your country.
Please contact the PEN WiPC office in London if sending appeals after 18 June 2012
For further information please contact Sara Whyatt at PEN International PEN Writers in Prison Committee, Brownlow House, 50/51 High Holborn, London WC1V 6ER, Tel.+ 44 (0) 20 7405 0338, Fax: +44 (0) 20 7405 0339, email: firstname.lastname@example.org