After over 4 months – 132 days – held under pre-trial detention on charges of membership of the Kurdish PKK and support for terrorism, Turkish writer and human rights activist Asli Erdoğan was released from Bakirkoy women’s prison in Istanbul, following her preliminary hearing on Thursday 29th December 2016.


Erdoğan, 49, along with eight other suspects who are currently facing the prospect of life in prison, were linked to the recently closed newspaper Ozgur Gundem which has been designated as “a mouthpiece” for the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).


In the last number of months over 1,600 people have been arrested under similar wide sweeping allegations of “support for a terrorist organisation” or “insulting government officials” and it is estimated that at least 10,000 more are  currently being investigated according to government sources and to the growing concern of international bodies.


Speaking briefly to media and supporters outside the courthouse after her hearing the temporarily-freed writer is quoted as saying:

“The difference between jail and outside conditions in Turkey is gradually narrowing in Turkey,” adding that there is “no guarantee that I won’t go back to jail tomorrow.”
Released with her also on temporary probation was the 70 year old Necmiye Alpay, the internationally prominent linguist similarly accused of  “spreading propaganda for and being members of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), and of attempting to destroy the unity of the state.” This last charge being the one carrying the life sentence on conviction.


However, despite their release, their future remains uncertain as conditions in Turkey continue to deteriorate and more and more civil rights are being curtailed. It appears now that anyone critical of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s dictatorial regime following the July coup is at risk of being labeled “a terrorist” and facing a less and less independent judiciary.


On December 20 the London Guardian reported:

“The imprisonment of celebrated novelist Asli Erdoğan breaches both Turkey’s constitution and the European convention on human rights, according to prominent lawyers and human rights activists…The 18 experts, who include judges and academics, said the pre-trial detention of the writer was an extreme measure, seemingly imposed with the intent of reducing political opposition to, and criticism of, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s regime.”


As well as her release being “under judicial supervision” Asli Erdoğan is prohibited from leaving the country while her next hearing is scheduled for 2 January.


As a depressing footnote to the release it was also reported on the same day that “Ahmet Sik of the daily Cumhuriyet newspaper was arrested on suspicion of spreading terrorist propaganda, according to state media and an opposition legislator…”  In an equally depressing echo of Erdoğan’s own concerns, Sik had also suffered arrest and detention in 2011 and 2012 for criticism of the ruling AKP (Justice and Development Party) regime, prompting Human Rights Watch (HRW) to state:

“Under its state of emergency, Turkey has once again become the world leader in jailing journalists and prosecuting them on terrorism charges…2016 will be remembered as the year Turkey’s president attempted to silence all critical and independent media in the country.” (Emma Sinclair-Webb, Turkey director at Human Rights Watch. December 29, 2016).


Poor Istanbul out the window“, on New Years Eve, 1956, remembering his own incarceration, another writer, and ‘enemy of the Turkish state’ Nazim Hikmet, was to write from his forced exile in Peredelkino, Moscow, far from his beloved Turkey.


Poor Istanbul out the window!


séamas carraher


Sources & References (thanks to)



By Konto na chwilę – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0,

Journalists, Writers In Turkey Face Terrorism, Separatism Charges





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