66-year-old journalist says denied access to books, writing materials, in prison

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Ali Bulaç was arrested on July 31, 2016.

Under arrest since July 31, 2016, veteran columnist and writer Ali Bulaç has said he is being denied access to books in prison.

A delegation from the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) recently paid a visit to some of the journalists held in Silivri Prison.

According to a report the CHP group prepared on its visits, Ali Bulaç is not able to access writing materials or books.

“Let them give me a meal only once a day. It doesn’t matter of they leave me to starve, but they should not keep me without books. I am 66 years old. I want to write a new book, but I can’t. This affects me more than hunger,” Bulaç said.

“I have health problems. I have diabetes. [But] they give me only generic pills, not the prescribed ones,” he added.

A columnist and op-ed contributor for the now-closed Zaman newspaper, Bulaç was detained on July 27, 2016 over his ties to the Gülen movement, which the government accuses of masterminding a coup attempt the same month. He was arrested only three days later on charges of spreading propaganda on behalf of the movement.

An indictment prepared by an İstanbul prosecutor seeks three consecutive life sentences on coup charges for 30 individuals who include journalists and executives from the now-closed Zaman daily.

Despite calls from international media organizations to release jailed journalists in Turkey, three more Turkish journalists have been arrested and jailed on charges of disseminating terrorist propaganda and membership in an armed terrorist organization, the T24 news portal reported on Friday.

Rights organizations estimate the number of jailed journalists in Turkey as between 159 and 235.

Amnesty International on Tuesday night projected the names of imprisoned Turkish journalists onto the facade of the Turkish Embassy in The Hague.

AI also launched a campaign on Twitter late in March to support jailed journalists in Turkey, calling for their release, with the hashtag #FreeTurkeyMedia.

Turkey is ranked 155th among 180 countries in the 2017 World Press Freedom Index released by Reporters Without Borders (RSF) on April 26.

If Turkey falls four more ranks, it will make it to the list of the countries on the blacklist, which has the poorest records in press freedom.

The US-based Freedom House, an independent watchdog organization dedicated to the expansion of freedom around the world, has named Turkey as among the countries that have a “not free” press, in a report released on April 28.

According to Freedom of the Press 2017, the Turkish government, using enhanced powers under a state of emergency, carried out a massive purge of media outlets accused of links to an attempted military coup in July. (Turkey Purge)

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