Turkish Journalist Sends Message from Prison

December 22, 2011 § Leave a comment

World Press Freedom Hero Nedim Şener Extends Wish for ‘A World of Freedom’

Turkish journalist Nedim Sener receives the IPI World Press Freedom Hero Award from IPI Director Alison Bethel McKenzie at the IPI World Congress 2010

VIENNA, 21 Dec. 2011 – International Press Institute (IPI) World Press Freedom Hero Nedim Şener, a Turkish investigative journalist and writer and winner of the Freedom of Expression Award, last week sent holiday greetings to colleagues and supporters from the Silivri prison.

Şener, who was named an IPI World Press Freedom Hero in 2010 for his work, including his book on the 2007 murder of Turkish-Armenian journalist Hrant Dink, has been detained since March on allegations that he belongs to an armed terrorist organisation.

He faces a hearing Monday in the Oda TV trial, named for a news website whose offices were raided in February. The raid led to charges against Şener and nine other journalists based on accusations that they are part of a media wing for the so-called Ergenekon plot in which an alleged clandestine Kemalist ultra-nationalist organisation with ties to members of the military and security forces is said to have plotted to use terrorism to overthrow the government.

Şener and the others received their first hearing in the case on 22 November, where defence counsel argued for the recusal of the presiding trial court judge, Resul Cakir, for bias based on his previous defamation suit against one of Şener’s co-defendants. The trial court is expected to rule on a request for the defendants’ release during the course of the trial at or before Monday’s hearing.

The full text of Şener’s message appears below.

In related news, the representative on freedom of the media for the Organization for Security and Co-Operation in Europe (OSCE), Dunja Mijatović, yesterday called on Turkish authorities to justify Tuesday’s mass arrest of Kurdish journalists following police raids on offices and houses across the country. News reports indicate that as many as 38 journalists were taken into custody.

Mijatović last week issued a statement calling for urgent measures to improve the media freedom situation in Turkey following a visit to the country during which she met with Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu. The text of that statement follows Şener’s message below.

The South and East Europe Media Organisation (SEEMO), an IPI affiliate, supports this release.

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To the International Press Institute, Pen International, other media freedom organizations and journalists –

I wish you a Happy New Year. I would like you to know that I am trying to represent you as best as I can here in Silivri prison.

I also would like to thank everyone who sent postcards, from all around the world, in support of me. I hope that when I leave prison, I can reply to all of you.

I wish everyone a world of freedom.

Nedim Şener,
Silivri Prison
16 December 2011

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OSCE media freedom representative calls for urgent measures to improve media freedom situation in Turkey

ANKARA, 15 December 2011 – The OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media, Dunja Mijatović, discussed today with Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu media freedom situation in the country, in particular imprisonment of journalists and Internet restrictions.

“We discussed media freedom challenges in Turkey that require immediate attention, more specifically imprisonment of journalists and Internet restrictions,” Mijatović said concluding her first official visit upon the invitation by the Foreign Minister. “I asked the Government to improve the situation of imprisoned journalists, for example, through alternatives to pre-trial detention, such as release on bail.”

“I also asked for urgent reform of the criminal law. Currently it can be used to restrict media freedom and even imprison journalists expressing critical views, as well as block websites,” said Mijatović offering her Office’s full assistance in this reform.

During the meeting Minister Davutoğlu assured the Representative that the main political philosophy of the Government is to promote freedom and eliminate restrictions. Mijatović said: “I hope that the good spirit of our meeting will be quickly translated into concrete measures to improve media freedom”.

During her visit Mijatović welcomed the initiatives by the Justice Ministry to amend the Criminal Code, the Anti-Terror Law, the Internet Law and the Broadcasting Law in order to bring the national legislation in line with international and OSCE commitments of Turkey. She expressed hope that this action plan to adopt and implement reform proposals will be approved by the Government.

In a meeting with the Turkish telecommunication authorities they presented the recently introduced Safe Internet Service filtering system. “I am glad that now people have the choice whether to use this system. Making it voluntary was a recommendation by my Office and I trust that this filtering system will never be imposed on Internet users,” she stressed.

Mijatović also had meetings at Justice Ministry; Transport, Maritime and Communications Ministry; and the Directorate General of Press and Information of the Office of the Prime Minister. Furthermore she met with media professionals and human rights activists at Ankara University and Istanbul Bilgi University.

The Representative will conclude her stay in Turkey on 16 December with a visit to journalists in Silivri prison.

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