Turkey: take action for Nedim Türfent

‘No matter what the price or consequence might be, we will never compromise from the magical creations of writing and of the written word. We would like to repeat once again our gratitude to PEN members, who have stood by us on this path.’ Nedim Türfent

Over a year ago, on 15 December 2017, news editor and reporter, Nedim Türfent, was sentenced to eight years and nine months in prison on trumped-up terrorism charges following an unfair trial, during which scores of witnesses said they had been tortured into testifying against him. Prior to his arrest, Nedim Türfent was covering Turkish military operations in southeast Turkey. He spent almost two years in solitary confinement in harrowing detention conditions. His sentence was upheld on 19 June 2018 and his lawyers have lodged an appeal before the Constitutional Court.

Determined to keep writing, Nedim Türfent started composing poetry while detained. You can read an extract of his writing, translated by Barış Altıntaş, below.

PEN believes that Nedim Türfent is being imprisoned solely for the peaceful exercise of his right to freedom of expression and calls for his immediate and unconditional release. Join us.


Show your support

Nedim will be among the writers highlighted at this year’s English PEN Modern Literature Festival on 24 January. Join us to show your support.

Please send appeals

  • Urging the Turkish authorities to release Nedim Türfent immediately and unconditionally;
  • Calling on the Turkish authorities to end the prosecution and detention of journalists simply on the basis of the content of their writing or alleged affiliations, and to immediately release all those held in prison for exercising their rights to freedom of opinion and expression.

Send appeals to:

Minister of Justice Abdulhamit Gül, Ministry of Justice, Adalet Bakanlığı, 06659 Ankara, Turkey

Send copies to the Embassy of Turkey in your own country. Embassy addresses may be found here: https://embassy.goabroad.com/embassies-of/turkey.

Please reach out to your Ministry of Foreign Affairs and diplomatic representatives in Turkey, calling on them to raise Nedim Türfent’s case in bilateral fora.

Please inform PEN of any action you take and of any responses you receive.


PEN members are encouraged to:

  • Publish articles and opinion pieces in your national or local press highlighting the case of Nedim Türfent and freedom of expression in Turkey;
  • Share information about Nedim Türfent and your campaigning activities via social media;
  • Organise public events, poetry readings and demonstrations;
  • Promote Nedim Türfent’s writings and translate his poetry (see extract below).

Please keep us informed of your activities.


In response to a solidarity letter sent earlier this year by press freedom groups, including PEN International, Nedim Türfent wrote:

I send my sincerest love and greetings to all the organisations and individuals who are organising a campaign for me and who are continuing their efforts. As long as you show this valuable solidarity, hope will always continue to remain in my heart.’

Speaking to his lawyer earlier this month, he added:

‘No matter what the price or consequence might be, we will never compromise from the magical creations of writing and of the written word. We would like to repeat once again our gratitude to PEN members, who have stood by us on this path. We will create beautiful things as we continue to be together. Efforts by PEN make us happy, boost our morale. We are grateful’.

Please keep sending messages of solidarity in English, German, Turkish or Kurdish, as well as books and magazines, to:

Nedim Türfent, Van Yüksek Güvenlikli, Kapalı Ceza İnfaz Kurumu, Koğuş A53, Van, Turkey

Poetry extract

Nedim Türfent told his lawyers:

I try to make use of my time in prison, and I try to make this period as colorful and alive to the extent that is possible. To do this, I put words together here and there’.

Here is an extract of his poetry, translated into English:

Your heart has become the earth

let it give elixir into the veins

bring fertility to the soil

from the springs behind the mountain Qaf.

let the benevolence of the crops

be the silver key to life.

let your heart soothe

the farmer

the peasant

the day laborer

the distressed

let it massage the broken wings of birds

with ointments

let it grant refuge

to the ants, working collectively, in solidarity

let your heart fill with generosity

giving butterflies an extra day of life

let it be a lifeline

like the womb

let your heart be crystal clear

as clear as water

let it give life to the lifeless.

Translation by Barış Altıntaş, Media and Law Studies Association (MSLA). First published here. Should you wish to translate Nedim Türfent’s poetry, please contact Aurelia.dondo@pen-international.org.

About Cat Lucas

Cat Lucas is English PEN's Writers at Risk Programme Manager

View all posts by Cat Lucas →

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