PEN International, the International Press Institute (IPI), the Media and Law Studies Association (MLSA) and 41 other organizations from Europe and around the world released a joint statement on Tuesday calling for the release of Kurdish journalist Nedim Türfent, who is about to mark his 1,500th day behind bars on June 21.
Türfent was detained in May 2016 shortly after releasing video footage of Turkish security forces’ ill-treatment of around 40 mainly Kurdish workers who were rear-handcuffed and made to lie on the ground in the southeastern city of Hakkari.
In the video footage, published by the now-banned pro-Kurdish Dicle News Agency (DİHA), a police officer was seen shouting at the workers: ‘You will see the power of the Turks! What did this state do to you?” apparently alleging that the workers had links to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).
Charged with membership in a terrorist organization, Türfent was sentenced to eight years, nine months in prison. The sentence was later upheld by Turkey’s Supreme Court of Appeals. Türfent’s case is now pending before the European Court of Human Rights.
“Türfent was denied the right to attend his own trial in person, one of many fair trial violations,” the NGOs said. “The judicial proceedings were quick by Turkish standards and amounted to a show trial intended to punish Türfent immediately for his truth-telling journalism.”
One of the leading jailers of journalists in the world, Turkey was ranked 154th out of 180 countries in the 2020 World Press Freedom Index, published by Reporters Without Borders (RSF).