PEN America is “Deeply Relieved” that a Turkish Court Tossed Spurious Charges Against Journalists and Activist

(New York)– In a statement, PEN America expressed relief that a Turkish court today threw out spurious terrorist propaganda charges against journalists and activists Erol Önderoğlu, Şebnem Korur Fincancı, and Ahmet Nesin. All three were charged after taking part in a free speech campaign in 2016.

“We are deeply relieved that after more than three years of absurd legal proceedings, justice has finally been served for these dedicated free expression activists, whose only crime was standing in solidarity with their colleagues,” said Karin Deutsch Karlekar, director of Free Expression at Risk Programs at PEN America. “However, Önderoğlu continues to face politicized charges in another separate case. We call for Turkish authorities to drop the remaining baseless charges against scores of journalists and activists, and to respect their right to free expression without fear of legal reprisal or prison time.”

Erol Önderoğlu, a journalist and Turkey representative of Reporters Without Borders (RSF); Şebnem Korur Fincancı, the head of the Turkey Human Rights Foundation (TİVH); and writer and journalist Ahmet Nesin took part in a 2016 solidarity campaign for Özgür Gündem, the now closed pro-Kurdish newspaper, by acting as editor-in-chief for a day.

They were jailed June 20, 2016 and later charged with “propagandizing for a terrorist organization,” “inciting to commit a crime,” and “praising the crime and the criminal.” Of the 56 people who took part in the campaign, 38 were subject to criminal prosecution and the majority of these have been sentenced to either prison time, fines, and/or other judicial controls such as travel bans.

More information on PEN America’s advocacy work on behalf of the dozens of writer and journalists under threat in Turkey can be found here.


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.

Contact: PEN America media consultant Suzanne Trimel,