Journalists in Prison

Imprisoned journalist Nedim Türfent’s meetings with his lawyers will be limited, recorded and surveilled

The meetings of journalist Nedim Türfent, who was arrested and subsequently sentenced to 8 years 9 months in prison on terrorism-related charges after reporting on the ill-treatment of Kurdish workers by Turkish security forces, with his lawyers will be limited, recorded and surveilled for three months as per the latest decision by Van Judgeship of Execution. The reason for the court’s decision was the “finding” of the Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office, which examined a note that was given the prison officials to be passed on to Türfent by his lawyers in a visit and in which an academic project interested in translating Türfent’s works into English was mentioned.

The Directorate of Van High Security Penitentiary where Nedim Türfent has been held for the last 2076 days, sent the notes, which was given to the prison officials by Türfent’s lawyers in their last visit on December 7, 2021, to the Van Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office for examination. In its petition, the Directorate stated that they were “unsure” about passing on the notes to Türfent as they might not be “documents related to his defense.” The Directorate justified their decision to send the notes to the Prosecutor’s Office by referring to the Anti-Terror Law and arguing that there is a possibility that those who have been convicted under this law may send out “open or coded messages or directives to terrorist or criminal organizations and thereby endanger the the security of the penal institution in which they are housed via their lawyers.” The Directorate asked the Prosecutor’s Office to examine if the notes can be passed on to Türfent and if there is any need to limit his meetings with lawyers as well as to record and surveil these meetings.

After examining the notes sent by the Prison Directorate on December 21, 2021, the Prosecutor’s Office decided that the notes were not related to Türfent’s defense, but instead they contained a message in which “Nedim Türfent was asked about the possibility of sending his works to researchers at New York University, who are interested in translating his works in the context of an academic project which aims to translate the works of authors and journalists imprisoned in Turkey into English.” After its examination, the Prosecutor’s Office concluded that “sending out Türfent’s writings to persons in question might give way to illegal flow information outside the institution and thereby endanger the security of the penal institution where Türfent is being held” and requested that Türfent’s meetings with his lawyers be limited to certain days and time. The Prosecutor’s Office, which asked that the notes in question be confiscated, also requested that these meetings be recorded and surveilled by an appointed official.

Van Judgeship of Execution decided on January 7, 2022. According to the decision, the meetings between Türfent and his lawyers will be recorded for three months; the meetings will be monitored by an official; all the notes, files, documents and document samples exchanged during these meetings will be seized by the Prison Directorate for inspection and the meetings will be limited to working days and will only be held once a week and for an hour. Türfent’s lawyers will appeal to the Judgeship’s decision which they view to be a clear violation of the Attorneyship Law.