March 27, 2012

Minister of Justice
Mr. Sadullah Ergin
06669 Kizilay
Fax: 00 90 312 419 3370

Your Excellency,

On behalf of the 3,000 members of PEN American Center, an international organization of writers dedicated to protecting freedom of expression wherever it is threatened, we are writing to express our concern regarding the online threats against writers Ahmet Şık and Nedim Şener, as well as the new charges brought against Şık.

According to our information, four days after Ahmet Şık and Nedim Şener’s release pending trial, a person by the pseudonym “Faiz Düsmani” posted a message on Twitter warning of an Ergenekon assassination attempt on the writers that would then be blamed on the Gülen movement. This threat has gone uninvestigated by the authorities.

New charges have also been brought against Ahmet Şık for comments he made to the press after his release from Silivri prison. He is accused of “threatening judges and prosecutors and depicting them as targets for terrorist organizations.” Şık had said, “The police officers, prosecutors and judges who plotted and carried out this conspiracy will go to prison. Justice will come when they enter this prison.” He also says that around one hundred journalists remain in prison in Turkey. Among those still imprisoned are publisher and PEN Member Ragip Zarakolu, his son Deniz Zarakolu, academic Büsra Ersanli, and translator Ayse Berktas.

Ahmet Şık has investigated the police affiliation with the Gülen movement. He was previously on trial for two other books on Ergenekon, co-authored with journalist Ertugrul Maivolgu. This trial was reopened in 2010, and Şık faces over four years in prison if convicted.

Nedim Şener was previously tried and acquitted in 2010 for his book implicating the Turkish security forces in the murder of Armenian-Turkish writer Hrant Dink. He has since written two more related books, Red Friday—Who Broke Dink’s Pen? and Fetullah Gülen and the Gülen Community in Ergenekon Documents. There are also concerns that Şener’s arrest is tied to his research into the alleged links between the police and the Gülen movement.

PEN American Center takes the threats against Ahmet Şık and Nedim Şener extremely seriously, and is also incredibly concerned about the additional charges brought against Ahmet Şık for legitimate comments he made upon his release from prison. We therefore call on the authorities to condemn the threats against the writers and provide immediate and efficient protection, and to drop all charges against Şener and Şık, who still face trial on charges that violate their right to freedom of expression, as guaranteed under Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights. We also remain concerned for Ragip Zarakolu, Deniz Zarakolu, Büsra Ersanli, and Ayse Berktas, and call for the immediate and unconditional release of all writers, scholars, and journalists imprisoned for exercising their right to freedom of expression.

Thank you for your consideration of this urgent matter.

Hannah Pakula
Chair, Freedom to Write Committee

Larry Siems
Director, Freedom to Write and International Programs

CC: Ambassador Namık Tan
Embassy of Turkey to the United States
2525 Massachusetts Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20008
Fax: (202) 612-6744

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