PEN International protests the detention of writers Ahmet Şık and Nedim Şener, who were formally charged with being members of the Ergenekon organization on March 6, 2011, and taken to Metris Prison in Istanbul to await trial. Both Şık and Şener are believed to be detained for their research into and writings about the Ergenekon investigation, under which over 200 people are being tried on allegations of involvement in coup plots. PEN considers the two men to be held solely for their writings and calls for their unconditional release.

Background Information

Nedim Şener, who was awarded the 2010 Oxfam/Novib PEN Freedom of Expression award and was also named World Press Freedom Hero last year by the International Press Institute, was tried and subsequently acquitted in 2010 for writing a book that implicated the Turkish security forces in the 2007 murder of Turkish Armenian newspaper editor Hrant Dink. He has since written two other books on related issues: Red Friday: Who Broke Dink’s Pen? and Fetullah Gülen and the Gülen Community in Ergenekon Documents. The Gülen movement is an Islamic organization that promotes inter-faith dialogue. It is thought that Şener’s arrest is linked to his research into suggestions that the movement holds undue influence in the Ergenekon investigation. Furthermore, earlier this year Şener had written that he had received death threats for his comments that suggested that police accused of negligence in the inquiry of Hrant Dink’s death were also linked to Ergenekon.

Police are said to have seized the draft manuscript of a book by Ahmet Şık, who, like Şener, is the author of books investigating Ergenekon. He too is said to have looked into the alleged affiliation of police to the Gülen movement. He is already on trial for two books on Ergenekon, co-authored with journalist Ertugrul Maviolgu, that opened in October 2010. If convicted, he faces over four years in prison. The writers are accused of divulging state secrets.

Since June 2007 there have been a series of arrests of leading figures in the military, politics, and police, as well as writers, academics, and journalists. Now numbering over 200, they are accused of membership in a neo-nationalist organization known as Ergenekon. Its aim is said to be the overthrow of the government and it is linked to several assassinations, including that of Hrant Dink. There have been concerns about the conduct of the investigation. The trials opened in October 2008 and are likely to go on for years.

Turkish journalists are shocked by the March 3 arrests, and have staged demonstrations in Istanbul and Ankara. Commenting on the recent raid, Mavioglu, who co-authored a book on Ergenekon with Şık, pointed out that it was Şık ‘s articles, titled "Coup Diaries," published in 2007 in Nokta magazine (subsequently shut down) which had led to the opening of the Ergenekon investigation itself. PEN Turkey has joined the protests against the arrests.

Others arrested on March 3 include:

Yalçin Küçük, writer, historian, and academic, known for his strong secularist, left-wing views. He was arrested January 2009 in the Ergenekon case, and freed pending trial, which is still ongoing.

Dogan Yurdakal, author of a book on the Turkish intelligence services.

Mümtaz Idil, Iklim Ayfer Kaleli, Sait Çakir, Aydin Biyikli, Coskun Musluk, and Müyesser Yildiz—all journalists working for Oda TV.

Write A Letter

  • Expressing concern that the arrests of Ahmet Şık and Nedim Şener are directly linked to their writings;
  • Referring to fears that they could face prosecution on charges that contravene their right to freedom of expression as guaranteed under Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights, as well as Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Poltical Rights, to which Turkey is a state party.

Send Your Letter To

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

Please copy appeals to the diplomatic representatives for Turkey in your country if possible. 

Please check with PEN if sending appeals after March 31, 2011: ftw [at]