Journalists in Prison

Imprisoned journalist Eser: I’ll continue speaking up for the oppressed

Media and Law Studies Association (MLSA) visited Mezopotamya Agency (MA) reporter Sadiye Eser in İstanbul’s Bakırköy Prison where she is imprisoned on charges of “membership in a terrorist organization.”

Eser and fellow MA reporter Sadık Topaloğlu were taken into custody on Friday, November 29 for “membership in a terrorist organization” charges and was placed under pre-trial detention on Tuesday, December 3.

MLSA lawyer Zelal Pelin Doğan, who visited Eser, reported that she seemed to be in good spirits. In a note she passed to her colleagues, Eser wrote: “I have always tried to be the voice of the oppressed. Now I am here, where there are also violations of humans rights. It was always a struggle to find out about what’s going inside prisons when I was outside. Now that I am also inside, I will try my best to speak up for the oppressed women here.”

“Not allowed to contact lawyers”

During the visit Eser recounted the circumstances of her and her colleague’s detention. “We left the office for dinner on 29 Nov Friday around 5:30 PM. Our phones were seized [by the police] and we were taken into custody on İstiklal Avenue. We were not allowed to contact our lawyers for a long time.” 

Eser and Topaloğlu’s colleagues were not able to immediately find out the location where the two journalists were being held until the late hours of the evening. The police denied responses to any inquiries about their situations. 

Their lawyers found out the exact location where Eser and Topaloğlu were detained around 11:00 PM. Eser also said there was a restriction order on her case for the first 24 hours. Lawyers Özcan Kılıç and Sercan Korkmaz were able to visit her on Sunday, two days after her detention. 

She was referred to 3rd Criminal Judgeship of Peace with prosecutors seeking her arrest for “membership in a terrorist organization” where she said the judge who ordered her arrest did not direct any questions to her or Topaloğlu. 

I was strip searched in prison”

Eser said she is currently being kept in a prison ward of 30 inmates. She said initially she wasn’t allowed in the prison with her clothes, with the authorities confiscating her clothing and giving her a skirt of unknown origin instead. She was denied access to the food items available in the prison commissary. She also said the short-stay room was dirty and far from meeting standards of hygiene. 

Eser has been a reporter since 2011 and worked for many organizations such as Evrensel, Hayat TV and shut-down Dicle News Agency (DİHA).