PEN International has released a statement condemning the confiscation of the passport of journalist Can Dündar’s wife at an Istanbul airport on Saturday, calling on Turkish authorities to reinstate the woman’s travel documents.
Turkish authorities prevented Dilek Dündar, the wife of Turkish journalist and editor Can Dündar, from travelling out of Istanbul Atatürk Airport on Saturday, confiscating her passport and prohibiting her from travelling abroad.
On July 23, 2016 Turkey passed a law under its state of emergency following an attempted military coup on July 15 that gave the state the right to confiscate the passports of anyone under investigation and ordered the closure of thousands of private educational institutions, media organizations and publishing houses.
The decree, which immediately became Law No. 667, was the first such decree by the Cabinet headed by President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan under Turkey’s three-month state of emergency, which came into effect on July 21.
On Sept. 1 an amendment to the decree was enacted which extended the power to confiscate the passports of not only those under investigation, but also their spouses and partners. However, when Dilek Dündar’s passport was seized at the airport, she was informed that her passport had been cancelled on Aug. 4, almost a month before the amendment had come into effect.
Releasing a statement about the confiscation of Dilek Dündar’s passport on Saturday, PEN International’s executive director, Carles Torner, said: “This amendment extends the already draconian measures passed in the name of Turkey’s state of emergency and unnecessarily targets partners and spouses of anyone under investigation. This gives unfettered powers to restrain the free movement not only of anyone the Turkish State chooses to consider under investigation, but also their families. It is truly a dark day for Turkey when committing a crime is no longer a prerequisite to being treated as a criminal. We call on the Turkish authorities to re-instate Dilek Dündar’s travel documents and allow her to travel freely.”
Speaking to PEN International, Can Dündar said: “This latest example perfectly encapsulates Turkey’s authoritarian rule under the state of emergency. In our new ‘judicial’ order, if one is put on trial, one’s entire family can be treated like criminals.”
President Erdoğan had openly targeted Can Dündar after his reporting on arms bound for Syria and said he will not let Dündar go without paying a price for his reporting, which amounted to spying and treason according to pro-government circles.
The Turkish government’s pressure on relatives of individuals who are sought in relation to the coup attempt or other charges is reaching new heights every day. The relatives are detained to force those facing an arrest or detention warrant to surrender to police.
In late July the wife of Bülent Korucu, a critical journalist, was detained in the eastern province of Erzurum and is still being held hostage to force her husband to surrender to police.