Last December, I wrote on the case of Fusun Erdogan, who was sentences to life imprisonment plus 300 years without the possibility of parole. Erdogan was convicted of membership in a terrorist organization in a trial criticized by Reporters without Borders and other journalist organizations. As the president of the European Federation of Journalists stated when the verdict was announced, “this is completely absurd. The verdict is a disgrace to the Turkish judicial system and an expression of the absolute power of the government.”
Since then, much has happened in the Turkish justice system: prosecutors have been fired, Erhan Tuncel, a prime suspect in a retrial dealing with the murder of Hrant Dink has been released. So were five murder suspects on trial for torturing and killing three Christians in Malatya. Fusun Erdogan, however, continues to serve out her sentence.
“Fusun Erdogan Case: How to Silence a Journalist,” a video posted on YouTube last month gives a summary of how Fusun was framed, tried and convicted. Her lawyer sums up the trial’s chilling message: “You just be afraid of us. We do not need any evidence to sentence you to prison.” He ends by saying, “I am afraid, I am afraid. And you should be also.”
Turkey continues to lead the world in imprisoning journalists. There is good reason to be afraid.
Bill Jones, Chair
Turkey Country Group, Amnesty International – USA