Writers Nedim Şener and Ahmet Şık Freed Pending Trial
PEN International is delighted at the news of the release yesterday of writers Nedim Şener and Ahmet Şık after over a year in prison. However, the legal proceedings against them will continue, a process that can last for months, even years. PEN remains concerned that they face conviction and long imprisonment on charges that breach international standards protecting the right to freedom of expression.
On March 12, 2012, the Istanbul 16th High Criminal Court ordered the release pending trial of Şener and Şık, along with two other television journalists being tried in the same case. Six others similarly accused will remain detained. Judge Mehmet Ekinci ruled that the four should be freed due to the “possibility of change of the quality of crime” and in light of the fact that the defendants have already served more than a year in prison. The next hearing will be on June 18. For more on yesterday’s hearing, see Bianet.
Nedim Şener, was tried and acquitted in 2010 for his book implicating 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.
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 the police to the Gülen movement. He is already on trial for two books on Ergenekon, co-authored with journalist Ertugrul Maviolgu. This trial was reopened in October 2010 and, if convicted, Şık faces over four years in prison. Şener and Şık are both accused of divulging state secrets.
In response to references that there are scores, possibly over 100, journalists detained in Turkey, leading Turkish government officials have made comments that reveal an increasing antipathy towards journalists and a disregard for international concerns that the situation for free expression is deteriorating. Recently Egemen Bagis, Turkish minister for EU Affairs, in an interview with BBC World News “Hard Talk,” where he denied that journalists are detained for their writings, stated that there are “no intellectuals behind any bar in any country” and suggested that those held in Turkey are criminals. As well as Sener and Sik, PEN is campaigning for the release of publisher Ragip Zarakolu, his son Deniz Zarakolu, academic Büsra Ersanli, translator Ayse Berktas, and others clearly held in violation of their rights to peaceful free expression and association. PEN is also investigating the cases of scores of other journalists held in Turkey, and monitoring a similar number of others on trial.
- OSCE Media Freedom Representative Welcomes Release of Turkish Journalists
- "Turkey's Jailed Journalists" by Dexter Filkins, from The New Yorker
Write A Letter
- Welcoming the release pending trial of Ahmet Şık and Nedim Şener but expressing concern that the legal proceedings against them continue, and;
- Referring to concerns that the two men are being prosecuted on charges that contravene their right to freedom of expression as guaranteed under Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights.
Send Your Letter To
Mr Sadullah Ergin
Minister of Justice
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 June 18, 2012: ftw [at] pen.org