In letter from Turkish jail, journalist describes ordeal

In a letter she passed from Gebze women’s prison outside Istanbul, Fusün Erdoğan, founder and director of the leftist broadcaster Özgür Radyo, details circumstances of her arrest, imprisonment, and politicized criminal charges. Erdoğan founded the broadcaster in 1995, and worked as its director until September 8, 2006–the day when plainclothes police agents detained her in the city of Izmir, she writes in the letter. She has been locked up ever since.

“From the moment I was pushed into that vehicle, I lost sense of time and place because I was sandwiched between the front and rear seats, and my eyes were covered. I did not know where they were taking me,” Erdoğan wrote. After they brought her to an unknown building, the agents told Erdoğan “to lie down the same way next to other people who were on the floor face down.” When she refused, they forced her to do so. Next, she was videotaped, humiliated, and thrown into jail.

Authorities in Turkey–the world’s worst jailer of journalists, according to CPJ’s prison census–would not tell Erdoğan or her lawyers the reasons for her arrest for two years. In 2008, prosecutors finally disclosed her indictment–she was accused of leading an illegal organization and attempting to overthrow the constitutional order by force–and asked the court to jail her for life without parole. Erdoğan and her lawyers dispute the allegations and the procedure leading to her imprisonment and say there is no concrete evidence against her. The journalist describes how her health has deteriorated and asks for solidarity.

“My next hearing is on March 12, 2013 at 10th Heavy Penal Court in Caglayan, Istanbul. I hope to see some of you there,” Erdoğan writes.

CPJ continues to advocate for the release of all journalists imprisoned in Turkey.

Read Erdoğan’s full letter here.