Turkey: acquittal in OdaTV case welcome but scores of journalists still detained

English PEN welcomes acquittal of former writer-in-residence Ahmet Şık and his co-defendants

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English PEN joins PEN colleagues around the world in welcoming today’s acquittal of all defendants in the OdaTV case. We nevertheless continue to call on the Turkish authorities to immediately release all those held in prison for exercising their rights to freedom of opinion and expression, and to end the prosecutions and detention of journalists simply on the basis of the content of their journalism or alleged affiliations.

The OdaTV case dates back to 2011 when 13 individuals, including ten prominent journalists, one academic, one former police officer and one intelligence service officer (who died in prison in 2011) were accused of being the media arm of a secret extreme nationalist terrorist organisation known as ‘Ergenekon’. Many of the defendants were held in pre-trial detention, some for over a year, during the course of the investigation.

It has taken the Turkish authorities six years to reach a verdict: PEN is calling for a thorough review into the criminal investigation and subsequent trials to ensure that those responsible for this miscarriage of justice are held accountable. Urgent steps must be taken to guarantee the independence of the police and judiciary to prevent similar miscarriages of justice in other cases.

Award-winning investigative journalist and our former writer-in-residence Ahmet Şık, who was acquitted today, is in the unusual position of being tried in a separate and contradictory case for supporting the Fethullah Gülen Terrorist Organisation (FETÖ) and the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK). He was arrested on 29 December 2016 and remains in pre-trial detention. PEN continues to call for his immediate and unconditional release.

TAKE ACTION

Join the Free Turkey Media campaign

Show your support for Ahmet Şık and the many other writers still in detention in Turkey by joining the Free Turkey Media Campaign. #FreeTurkeyMedia #GazetecilikSuçDeğildir

Join the World Press Freedom Day protest in London

English PEN will also be joining colleagues from Amnesty to host a silent vigil outside the Embassy of Turkey on Wednesday 3 May, World Press Freedom Day. Please join us and feel free to bring your own #FreeTurkeyMedia banners and placards if you would like to.

Wednesday 3 May, 5.30pm
Turkish Embassy, 43 Belgrave Square, London SW1X 8PA
RSVP: richard.williams@amnesty.org.uk
Press enquiries: stefan.simanowitz@amnesty.org

Sign the petition

Please also take a moment to sign and share our petition for the release of Ahmet Şık and other writers unlawfully imprisoned in Turkey.

Background

In February 2017, PEN International and other human rights groups monitored the hearings of several criminal cases against journalists and human rights defenders in Turkey, including the OdaTV case.  At the previous hearing on 14 December 2016, the prosecutor requested that all twelve defendants be acquitted, arguing that there was insufficient evidence of the existence of the ‘Ergenekon’ organisation.

Since the failed coup attempt of 15 July 2016, the Turkish authorities have cracked down on freedom of expression, resulting in a near total silencing of critical voices. There are now at least 141 writers and journalists in prison, making Turkey the biggest jailer of journalists in the world.

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