(New York) – PEN America urges the Turkish government to dismiss all charges against renowned sociologist and writer, Pınar Selek, ahead of her hearing at the Istanbul Criminal Court on September 29. Selek is charged with terrorism-related offenses related to the July 1998, explosion in Istanbul’s Spice Bazaar, which killed seven people. Selek has always insisted that she is innocent and experts have proven that the explosion resulted from a gas leak and not a bomb. If convicted, Selek faces life in prison.

The September 29 trial would come on top of four acquitals for Selek in this case, and follows two decades of relentless legal pursuit by the Turkish government, which has included numerous irregularities, imprisonment and torture. The government has issued an arrest warrant for Selek and is calling for her extradition from France, where she currently lives.

Justin Shilad, PEN America’s research and advocacy lead for the Middle East and North Africa, said:

“The Turkish government’s relentless persecution of Pınar Selek comes from their fear of her ability to amplify marginalized voices through her research on minority rights and Kurdish communities. ”

“Selek’s writing regularly focuses on themes that the government wishes to suppress including social marginalization, gender, militarism, and feminism. By addressing politically and socially relevant topics, Selek effectively employs the art of writing, providing readers profound insights into the struggles faced by marginalized communities (particularly Kurdish and Armenian) communities in Türkiye. 

“PEN America believes that the Turkish government’s prosecution of Pınar Selek for the fifth time is an attempt to punish her for legitimate scholarly work and commentary. We stand in solidarity with Pınar Selek and call on Turkish authorities to drop all charges against her, and for the international community to continue monitoring this case closely.”

Selek, a former resident of German PEN’s Writers-in-Exile program, is also a founding editor of the Türkish feminist journal Amargi. Her latest book Azucena ou Les fourmis zinzines, a feminist novel about a woman living in Nice, was published in April 2022. 

For more information about Pınar Selek and actions by her support committee, click here


About PEN America

PEN America stands at the intersection of literature and human rights to protect open expression in the United States and worldwide. We champion the freedom to write, recognizing the power of the word to transform the world. Our mission is to unite writers and their allies to celebrate creative expression and defend the liberties that make it possible. Learn more at pen.org.


Dietlind Lerner | [email protected] | +1 310 699 8775