March 13, 2012

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

Your Excellency,

On behalf of the 3,500 members of PEN American Center, an international organization of writers dedicated to protecting freedom of expression wherever it is threatened, we are writing to welcome the release of writers Nedim Şener and Ahmet Şık. However, we remain concerned that legal proceedings against them continue.

According to our information, on March 12, 2012, the Istanbul 16th High Criminal Court ordered the release pending trial of Nedim Şener and Ahmet Şık, along with two television journalists being tried in the same case. Judge Mehmet Ekinci ruled that the four should be released due to the “possibility of change of the quality of crime,” and in light of the fact that the defendants have already served more than a year in prison. The next hearing will be held on June 18, 2012. They continue to face imprisonment on charges that breach international standards protecting the right to freedom of expression.

Both Nedim Şener and Ahmet Şık were arrested on March 6, 2011, and stand accused of being members of Ergenekon. Since their arrest, scores of scholars, journalists, and writers have been arrested and accused of involvement in Ergenekon. Among those still imprisoned are publisher and PEN Member Ragip Zarakolu, his son Deniz Zarakolu, academic Büsra Ersanli, and translator Ayse Berktas.

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 concerns that Şener’s arrest is tied to his research into the alleged links between the police and the Gülen movement.

Ahmet Şık has also 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. Police are said to have seized a manuscript of his book about Ergenekon.

PEN American Center welcomes the release of writers Nedim Şener and Ahmet Şık, but remains seriously concerned that they 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. We therefore call for all charges against Şener and Şık to be dropped, and 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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