We, the undersigned, call for the immediate release of award-winning investigative journalist and author Ahmet Şık and other writers detained in violation of their right to freedom of expression in Turkey.
Following his detention on 29 December 2016, renowned journalist Ahmet Şık has now been charged and arrested and is being held in pre-trial detention. Şık is accused of making terrorist propaganda for the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and the Gülen movement (FETÖ), which the government has blamed for the failed coup attempt in July 2016. He has also been charged under Article 301 of the Turkish Penal Code, for ‘publicly denigrating the Republic of Turkey, its judiciary, military and security forces’.
We believe that the charges against Şık are politically motivated and call for his immediate and unconditional release. In the meantime, we urge the authorities to ensure that he be granted full access to his lawyers and his family, and that he is not subject to any ill-treatment while he remains in detention.
Initially held in solitary confinement in filthy conditions in Metris Prison, Ahmet Şık was reportedly denied access to clean drinking water for three days. Following his transfer to high security Silivri Prison on 2 January 2017, he continues to be denied access to all forms of media. On 2 January, Şık’s lawyers appealed the court’s decision to detain him. Two days later, this appeal was rejected. They have now filed an appeal with the Constitutional Court.
The detention of award-winning investigative journalist Ahmet Şık once again highlights the growing post-coup crackdown in Turkey.
In March 2016, Ahmet Şık launched his report Journalism Under Siege (published by English PEN, Free Word and ARTICLE 19, in partnership with the Committee to Protect Journalists), detailing the ‘unprecedented crisis’ facing Turkey’s independent media. Since then, and particularly in the wake of the attempted coup, the situation for writers and journalists has deteriorated even further. In the report, Şık named 39 imprisoned journalists: that number more than tripled over the course of 2016 and, at the time of writing, over 150 journalists and writers are now detained in Turkey, including Şık himself.
While recognising the right of the Turkish authorities to bring those responsible for crimes committed during the attempted coup to justice, we call on the Turkish authorities to safeguard freedom of expression, human rights and respect their obligations under international law during the declared state of emergency, and to release Ahmet Şık and all journalists and writers held solely in connection with their peaceful exercise of their right to freedom of expression.
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