(New York, NY) — Today PEN America expressed relief that Turkey’s Ministry of Justice requested the end of legal proceedings against novelist and Nobel Laureate Orhan Pamuk.

“This move by the Ministry of Justice makes supremely clear the speciousness of the original charges against Pamuk based on his literary work,” said Karin Deutsch Karlekar, PEN America’s director of free expression at risk programs. “Turkish authorities should never have pursued the initial criminal investigation into Pamuk for Nights of Plague. We welcome the request by the Ministry calling for an end to these baseless accusations against Pamuk. It is clear that Pamuk’s steadfast contributions to the global literary community and his defense of free expression worldwide made him a prominent target of Turkish authorities that have demonstrated hostility toward these ideals. Unfortunately, Orhan Pamuk is one of dozens of writers in Turkey — and Turkish writers living abroad — who face persistent and politically-motivated efforts to criminalize their free and creative expression. We urge the Court of Cassation to accept the Ministry’s request, overturning the reopening of the case against Pamuk. Additionally, we demand the Ministry of Justice end the unjust persecution of writers in Turkey and abroad for exercising their universal right to freedom of expression and release all unjustly detained writers and public intellectuals.”

Under its mandate provided by Article 309, the Turkish Ministry of Justice can request that the Court of Cassation—a supreme judiciary body—overturn and effectively eliminate the Criminal Judgeship of Peace’s decision to reopen the investigation into Pamuk. Avenues to overturn or eliminate decisions made by the Criminal Judgeship of Peace are otherwise very limited. The criminal investigation into Pamuk’s writing is a familiar tactic commonly used to silence dissident voices in Turkey, as in the case of Ahmet Altan, who was convicted in 2019 for insulting President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, and Osman Kavala, who has remained unjustly held in pre-trial detention for four years despite higher court decisions calling for his release. In 2020, the Turkish government jailed at least 25 writers for exercising their right to free expression, the third-highest number of writers and public intellectuals globally, according to PEN America’s 2020 Freedom to Write Index. In June 2021, PEN America published Cracking Down on Creative Voices, a report examining the Turkish government’s repression of writers and intellectuals in the years following the 2016 coup attempt. Several writers living in exile, such as writer Asli Erdogan, have continued to face bogus legal charges dating back to 2016.