Imprisoned journalist Türfent reports strict isolation in jails

According to imprisoned journalist Nedim Türfent, strict isolation is implemented in prisons under the guise of pandemic situations.

Kurdish journalist Nedim Türfent, who is imprisoned at Van High-Security Closed Prison, wrote to the Dicle Fırat Journalists Association (DFG) about the rights violations he has witnessed in prison.

Türfent, who has been jailed for roughly 5 and a half years, stated, "The measures and restrictions imposed in response to the pandemic have led to severe isolation. I was hopeful that normalization would begin gradually once we received the vaccine. Sociocultural events, classes, dialogues are still rare. We cannot benefit from any social activities.  Free visits are not allowed, a prisoner is allowed to be visited by two people, and only twice a month. Aside from that, we spend our time in the ward with two people 24 hours a day, seven days a week. We are severely disconnected from society."


Speaking about the trial process in his letter, Türfent said:

"As you know, all of the witnesses who testified in court stated that the statements in question were obtained through torture. Only news-related social media posts remained in the file and the statements were not taken into account. Our defences were not even considered. Furthermore, the translator indicated that he did not know enough Kurdish. I was never physically brought before a court. The higher courts perceive this as a clear violation of rights, and precedent decisions have been set. Furthermore, the file, which could have directed the accusation of spreading propaganda, resulted in membership in a terrorist organization. Perhaps the most tragicomic aspect of the process was in the court board's justified decision, which said “for writing disturbing news”. This was actually a confession of the whole process. Following the decision, the appeals procedure was initiated. Meanwhile, the clause"Even if disturbing, journalistic expressions do not constitute a crime" was added to the relevant article of the Anti-Terror Law (TMK), as in the decision of the Constitutional Court in the case of the Academics for Peace. There are numerous precedent decisions in this direction, but for some reason, the Supreme Court did not apply it to my case.

In this procedure, when the Supreme Court preferred to play the ostrich, Mehdi Eker of the AKP took the stage on a television program and declared that disproportionate force was employed in urban operations. He blamed it on FETO. That's what all of my news was about; rights violations and disproportionate power. One does not know whether to laugh or cry....”


Noting that he filed separate individual applications with Turkey’s Constitutional Court (AYM) and the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR), Türfent said, "Because I am considered "convicted”, I am at a huge disadvantage in terms of the pace of the case. For years, neither has raised the matter on their agenda. International and press freedom organizations, as well as journalistic organizations, should have played a more active role in this situation. This could also be interpreted as criticism. To be honest, the difference between the agenda of a journalist imprisoned in Istanbul and the agenda of a journalist arrested in the Kurdish region is enormous. For example, in our country, this problem is almost never seen on the agenda."

Under Turkish law, early release from prison under supervision is possible if there is only one year left on the sentence. In Nedim Türfent's case, this would be at the end of November. The journalist, who plans to submit a corresponding application on November 29, said: "It is said that late justice is no justice. In the meantime, even late justice does not seem possible anymore. At least I want to get the right to supervised release for the last year. However, there are differences in application between prisons. From some prisons there is immediate release, while others prefer to keep the prisoner even in the last year. Earlier this year, a law was even enacted that can delay release for six months if the individual is deemed unfit. Even though the court penalty remains the same, the prison sentence varies. The Ministry should establish a standard regulation about that matter."


Türfent had previously reported on the abuse of power by state officials. Specifically, it was about a video recording from August 2015 from the northern Kurdistan province of Hakkari. The video showed a special unit of the Turkish security forces handcuffing several dozen construction site workers and forcing them to lie down on the ground with roars, racist insults, threats.

Towards the end of the video, the following sentence can be heard: "Now you will feel the power of the Turks! I know your faces now. Anyone who cheats on us has to expect the consequences. What did this state do to you? Now you will feel the power of the Turks."

After Nedim Türfent reported on the incident, he was repeatedly threatened, including by members of the JİTEM (Intelligence Service of the Turkish Gendarmerie) before he was finally arrested on the basis of fictitious investigations. The indictment against the journalist was first written after he had been in custody for 13 months. The attorney-in-charge found sufficient evidence in Türfent's journalistic activities and articles to require a prison sentence of over 22 years.

On 15 December 2017, Nedim Türfent was finally sentenced to seven years in prison for being a member of a terrorist group. Later, the term was then extended to eight years and nine months because of the "continuation of the findings".