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Writers and journalists arrested following police raids

(WiPC/IFEX) - 4 March 2011 - The Writers in Prison Committee of PEN International protests the detention of writers Ahmet Sik and Nedim Sener, who were among around 10 journalists and writers arrested early yesterday morning (3 March 2011) following police raids on their homes and offices. They could remain in police detention until early next week when they will be brought before the prosecutors to hear the charges against them. Both Sik and Sener are believed to be detained for their research into and writings about the Ergenekon investigation under which over 200 people are being tried on allegations of involvement in coup plots. PEN International considers that the two men are held solely for their writings and calls for their release.

Nedim Sener, who was awarded the 2010 Oxfam/Novib PEN Freedom of Expression award, and who was also last year named World Press Freedom Hero by the International Press Institute, was tried and subsequently acquitted in 2010 for his book that implicates the Turkish security forces in the 2007 murder of the Turkish Armenian newspaper editor, Hrant Dink. He has since written two other books on related issues Red Friday – "Who Broke Dink's Pen?" and "Fetullah Gulen and the Gulen Community in Ergenekon Documents". The Gulen movement is an Islamic organisation that promotes inter-faith dialogue. It is thought that Sener's arrest is linked to his research into suggestions that the movement holds undue influence in the Ergenekon investigation. Furthermore, earlier this year Sener had written that he had received death threats for his comments that suggested police accused of negligence into the inquiry into Hrant Dink's death were also linked to Ergenekon.

Police are said to have seized the draft manuscript of a book by Ahmet Sik, who, like Sener, is the author of books investigating Ergenekon. He too is said to have looked into the alleged affiliation of police to the Gulen movement. He is already on trial for two books on Ergenekon, co-authored with journalist Ertugrul Maviolgu, that opened in October 2010 and for which, if convicted, he faces over four years in prison. The writers are accused of divulging state secrets.

Since June 2007 there have been a series of arrests of leading figures in the military, politics and police, as well as writers, academics and journalists. Now numbering over 200, they are accused of membership of a neo-nationalist organisation known as Ergenekon. Its aim is said to be to overthrow the government and it is linked to several assassinations, including that of Hrant Dink. There have been concerns about the conduct of the investigation. The trials opened in October 2008 and are likely to go on for years.

Turkish journalists are shocked by the 3 March arrests, and this morning, 4 March, around 2,000 of them staged a demonstration in Istanbul's Taksim Square in protest. They say that both Sik and Sener had been consistently open and transparent about their research into Ergenekon. Commenting on the recent raid, Ertugrul Mavioglu pointed out that it was Sik's articles, titled "Coup Diaries", published in 2007 in "Nokta" magazine (subsequently shut down), that had led to the opening of the Ergenekon investigation itself.

Others arrested on 3 March include:

- Yalcin Kucuk, a writer, historian and academic known for his strong secularist, left wing views. He was arrested in January 2009 in the Ergenekon case, and freed pending trial which is still ongoing.

- Dogan Yurdakal, author of a book on the Turkish intelligence services.

- Mumtaz Idil, Iklim Ayfer Kaleli, Sait Cakir, Aydin Biyikli, Coskun Musluk and Muyesser Yildiz, all journalists working for Oda TV.


PLEASE SEND APPEALS:

- Expressing concern that the arrests of Ahmet Sik and Nedim Sener appear to be directly linked to their writings
- Referring to fears that they could face prosecution on charges that contravene their right to freedom of expression as guaranteed under Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights


APPEALS TO:

Mr Sadullah Ergin
Minister of Justice
06669 Kizilay
Ankara
Turkey
Fax: 00 90 312 419 3370

Please also write to the Turkish ambassador in your country.

Please contact the PEN WiPC office in London if sending appeals after 31 March 2011.
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