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Letters from Turkey’s jailed journalists

Opposition Party CHP MP Atilla Sertel wrote this letter for Cumhuriyet to talk about his visits to journalists who have been jailed for months.

Journalist Kadri Gursel wants to know the charges against him

All he wants is to know what the charges against him are and to get acquitted in the court, said journalist Kadri Gursel, who has been detained for over three months without an indictment yet.  “In line with my struggle for rule of law and democracy, I feel obliged to ask the prosecutor to draw up the indictment as soon as possible and end this unlawful detention that we are subjected to. if you have any evidence, let us settle our cases in the court.” Kadri Gursel says.

“Associating people who are opposed to the new constitutional proposals with terrorism exceeds the imagination of any cartoonist”

“In the 1930’s, Nevzat Tandogan, then Governor of Ankara, was quoted as saying, “If there is a need for a communist regime in this country then we are the ones to establish it. We hear the same rhetoric today: Jail the cartoonists,  if need be, we will produce humour. Anybody who has the intention of rejecting the new constitutional proposals is immediately accused of terrorism. This level of humour exceeds the imagination of any satirical comedian or cartoonist, in my opinion.” Gursel adds with irony.

Journalist Ahmet Şik, whose unpublished book landed him in solitary confinement for a year by the Gulenists, is now  detained on charges related to Fethullahist Terrorist Organisation (FETO) , Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and Revolutionary People’s Liberation Party-Front (DHKP-C) membership. “I could also be arrested again in future should there ever be a trial for being a member of RETO (Recep Tayyip Erdoganist Terrorist Organisation)”, he added.  He also warns that “Any devious trick can be employed in Turkey to give Yes votes a nudge.  Any trap can be set up. Everyone must be vigilant”.

The public prosecutor hlmself is on probation awaiting trial for the much heavier charge of being a member of FETO, while we are physically detained on the lesser charges of providing logistical support.

“The prosecutor who is supposed to indict us is himself charged with FETO membership and awaiting trial that carries a potential life sentence.  We are charged with providing logistical support”, explains Onder Celik. “Therefore we are supposedly lower down in the ranks compared to the prosecutor. We pointed this out to the judge who detained us. But the judge argued that the presumption of innocence applies to the prosector thereby making him eligible for probation. We had a good laugh. Is there anybody of a sound mind who could possibly give a logical explanation to this absurdity?

Atilla Tas: “My tweets got on their nerves”

Atilla Taş, a popular singer, says the indictment against him is full of lies and fabrications. “Some people said they had been tricked by Gulenists and saved themselves that way. Others escaped abroad and some confessed their crimes and they were released. I am just guilty of tweeting. Hopefully, I will overcome this too.”

BARBAROS ŞANSAL: “They cannot intimidate me”

“If the crime is bad, injustice is worse. I am Sevda Sabancı’s tailor and my cell is next to the assassin of her husband, the late Ozdemir Sabancı. When I first arrived in prison, I suffered humiliating verbal abuse; unspeakable insults were hurled at me. However, they should know that I am not going to be intimidated.”

MURAT AKSOY: “Unlawful detention is now a matter of course”

“The indictment which took five and half months to write could have been drafted in two days”, says Murat Aksoy.  “The indictment for the detainees of Cumhuriyet newspaper case is already drafted but is not being served.  Ahmet Şık’s indictment is also written up and also on standby. Our indictment is copy and paste of our interrogation transcripts at the police station. Why did we have to wait for five and a half months then? Unlawful detention is now certainly a serious matter in this country.” he said.

Translated by Meltem Özdemir

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