January 28, 2011

Mr. Sadullah Ergin
Minister of Justice
06669 Kizilay

Dear Minister Ergin,

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 express our grave concern regarding the sentence handed to writer Nevin Berktaş.

According to our information, Nevin Berktaş, aged 52, was detained on November 2, 2010, in order to serve a 10-month sentence that was handed down after spending 13 years in prison in 2007 for charges under Article 7 of the Anti-Terror Law (propaganda for an illegal organization) for her book Inancin Sinandigi Zor Mekanlar: Hucreler, which describes the experience of resistance in the prison where she was incarcerated during the military coup in 1980. The book was published while Berktaş was in prison in 2000.

We understand that Berktaş’s lawyer applied to the Prosecutor’s Office to have the most recent sentence annulled because, due to an administrative error, Berktaş had already served five years and seven months longer in prison than she should have. The Prosecutor’s Office was reportedly in the process of reviewing this application when an arrest warrant was issued for the writer and she was detained once again.

Berktaş has spent 21 years of her life in prison. She is currently being held in Istanbul Bakirkoy Prison and is in poor health.  

PEN American Center is seriously concerned that Nevin Berktaş has been imprisoned yet again for the peaceful expression of her views, in violation of Article 19 of the International Convention on Civil and Political Rights and Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights, to which Turkey is a signatory. We therefore call for her immediate and unconditional release.

Thank you for your consideration of this important 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, D.C. 20008
Fax: (202) 612-6744

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