Socialist members of the European Parliament have written to Nazlı Ilıcak, a woman journalist imprisoned in Turkey since last July, continuing a letter-writing campaign by MEPs in support of detained Turkish journalists that was proposed by Reporters Without Borders (RSF).
“You have been in prison for months just for practicing a profession that is essential to democracy: journalism,” members of the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats (S&D) wrote in their letter, the text of which is published above.
Dated 25 April, the letter was signed by the S&D group’s chair, Gianni Pittella, and by all of the French Socialist Party’s MEPs including their leader, Christine Revault d’Allonnes-Bonnefoy.
A veteran of journalism and politics in Turkey, Ilıcak was arrested on 26 July 2016 and is being held Istanbul’s Bakırköy prison for women on suspicion of being linked to the movement led by US-based cleric Fethullah Gülen, which is accused by the government of being behind the July 2016 coup attempt.
After she had been held for nine months, the prosecutor’s office finally issued an indictment on 17 April seeking three life sentences for her on charges of assisting a terrorist organization and trying to overthrow the government, parliament and constitutional order.
RSF has asked five groups in the European Parliament to each write a letter to a different imprisoned Turkish journalist. Members of the Greens–European Free Alliance (Greens-EFA) kicked off the campaign by writing to cartoonist Musa Kart on 5 April.
Two weeks later, MEPs in the European United Left–Nordic Green Left group (GUE-NGL) wrote to Ahmet Şık, a well-known investigative journalist. Members of the ALDE group are expected to write soon to Kadri Gürsel, a leading columnist.
With more than 100 journalists currently detained, Turkey is now the world’s biggest prison for media professionals. Most of them were arrested under the state of emergency declared after last July’s abortive coup and have yet to be tried. Turkey is ranked 155th out of 180 countries in RSF’s 2017 World Press Freedom Index.