Award-winning investigative journalist Ahmet Şık has worked tirelessly to uncover political corruption in Turkey since 1991, writing for Cumhuriyet, Evrensel, Radikal, Nokta, BirGun and Reuters. He has also written three books: the first two, published in 2010, are about Ergenekon, an illegal organisation alleged to be behind many acts of political violence in Turkey, and its relationship to Turkish military and paramilitary groups. The third, The Imam’s Army, deals with the increasing influence of the Gülen Movement, an Islamic organisation that promotes inter-faith dialogue, in Turkey’s police and judiciary. Despite being banned from publication, a free digital copy of The Imam’s Army became widely available on the internet.
Ahmet Şık was arrested in March 2011 along with a group of broadcast and print journalists mainly associated with the online news outlet OdaTV, alleged to be the media arm of Ergenekon. He was accused of ‘knowingly and willingly aiding and abetting an illegal organisation’ under Article 220/7 of the Turkish Penal Code, of ‘membership of an armed organisation’ under Article 314 of the Turkish Penal Code, and faces an increased sentence under Article 5 of the Turkish Anti-Terror Law.
Facing up to 15 years’ imprisonment, Şık was placed in pre-trial detention and sent to Silivri Prison. He was released pending trial by the Istanbul 16th High Criminal Court on 12 March 2012 after just over a year in prison.
Upon his release, Şık gave a statement to the press, calling for those investigating him to be brought to account for unjustly persecuting him. New charges were brought following these comments, accusing Şık of ‘defaming a public official for the performance of their duty’ under Article 215/1-3a of the Turkish Penal Code.
Ahmet Şık previously faced trial under Article 301 of the Turkish Penal Code for denigrating the Turkish army in a February 2007 article for the weekly magazine Nokta. In the article, Şık referenced the Turkish army’s heavy-handed involvement in matters of ‘internal security’. He was acquitted in April 2008 by the Bakırköy 2nd Court of First Instance, with the judge citing Şık’s right to engage in ‘harsh criticism’.