In an act of solidarity the NUJ has decided to adopt jailed journalist Ayşe Düzkan. Ayşe, is a member of the board of Disk-Is, one of the NUJ’s sister unions in Turkey and has been defending herself for the last 18 months at various court hearings. Finally she was indicted earlier this month and was sentenced to 18 months in jail. The Istanbul court jailed her and other colleagues on charges of “propagandising for a terrorist organisation”.
Hüseyin Aykol was also sentenced and given three years and nine months; Hüseyin Bektaş, Mehmet Ali Çelebi and Ragıp Duran were each also given sentences of one year and six months in jail.
In a statement on the NUJ web site, https://www.nuj.org.uk/news/turkey-jails/Michelle Stanistreet, NUJ general secretary, said: “News that leaders of our sister union Disk-Is have been sentenced is a massive blow to press freedom. The heavy sentences served down on Ayse Düzkan and her four colleagues are a disgrace and a clear sign that the pressures facing journalists and journalism in Turkey show no sign of abating. Journalists are not terrorists and should be able to carry out their work without fear of intimidation and persecution. The world needs to make it clear to the Turkish regime that its brutal crackdown on journalists has to stop. Ayse and all those other journalists currently in prison have the full support and solidarity of all NUJ colleagues throughout the UK and Ireland and we will do all we can to press for an end to their incarceration.”
Meanwhile on 28 November the Guardian reported that a judge had thrown out an extradition request requested by the Turkish authorities for a media owner and three colleagues to be returned to Turkey to face trial in Ankara. In the latest in a number of similar refusals by British courts, the request was dismissed as “politically motivated” by Judge John Zani. Akin Ipek’s TV stations and newspapers have been confiscated by Turkish authorities for critising the Erdogan regime. The case was brought by the Crown Prosecution Services (CPS) on behalf of the Turkish government and heard at Westminster Crown court in London at the end of November.
He also refused the request on the grounds that returning the four would put them at risk of serious mistreatment.
The case was the latest demanded by the Turkish government to return those allegedly supporters of the Gullen movement, which the authorities claim were involved in the July 2016 failed coup against the regime. The CPS has said that will appeal the decision.
According to the NUJ, Turkey is the biggest jailer of journalists, with a record 180 in prison.