The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) strongly protests the ongoing legal harassment of Hasan Ozgun, a journalist formerly working with the now defunct Ozgur Gundem, a pro-Kurdish daily.
Ozgun, who was released from prison on April 21 after serving more than nine years for being a member of a banned political organization, now faces trial on four counts of "insulting" state institutions--a crime under Article 159 of the Penal Code. The charges, which were brought in 2001, came in response to a petition that Ozgun wrote while in prison to the public prosecutor of Diyarbakir, a city in southwestern Turkey. In the petition, he requested a retrial of his 1994 case and accused Turkish authorities of human rights abuses.
Ozgun's trial is scheduled to begin in October 2003. If convicted, the journalist faces up to 12 years in prison.
Ozgun, who previously served as the Diyarbakir correspondent for Ozgur Gundem, was arrested on December 9, 1993, and tried and convicted in 1994 under Article 168/2 of the Penal Code for being a member of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK). Prosecutors based their case against Ozgun in part on the paper's pro-Kurdish editorial slant and the presence of archived Kurdish newspapers and photographs of Kurdish militants found at the paper's office.
Prosecuting Ozgun based on his written opinion violates the internationally guaranteed right to freedom of expression. We respectfully urge Your Excellency to do everything within your power to ensure that these latest charges against Ozgun are dismissed.
Thank you for your attention to this important matter. We await your reply.