Bayram Namaz

Beats Covered:
Local or Foreign:

Namaz, a columnist for the weekly socialist newspaper Atılım (Leap), was charged with possession of dangerous materials, forgery of official documents, breaching the Constitution, forming organizations with the intention of committing crimes, endangering public safety, making threats, breaking and entering, damaging public property, and others, according to an updated list of imprisoned journalists provided by the Justice Ministry in November 2013 at CPJ’s request.

The official indictment, which was obtained by CPJ, did not contain any evidence of the alleged criminal activity.

Atılım is affiliated with the Socialist Party of the Oppressed, or ESP, which is a lawful organization. Gülizar Tuncer, Namaz’s lawyer, told CPJ that the state considered the paper and party to be fronts for the illegal Marxist Leninist Communist Party, or MLKP. In an indictment, authorities said Namaz was arrested with others at a house in Aydın’s Nazilli district in western Turkey, where the fourth general congress of the MLKP was held. Namaz said he was picked up by police at another location and brought there.

Authorities alleged that Namaz possessed a fake identification and that identification documents belonging to him were found in an MLKP house in Kayseri Province. As evidence against him, authorities also cited a 2005 article about an MLKP conference that was published in a Kurdish-language journal. Tuncer said her client was not the author of the article.

Tuncer said Namaz had been working under constant police surveillance for years, making it impossible for him to lead a secret life as a member of an illegal organization.

On July 12, 2013, the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg, France, ruled that Namaz had been kept in prison for an exorbitant amount of time without a verdict, according to news reports. The court told Turkey to pay compensation of 6,600 euros to Namaz. Turkish authorities complied.

On November 5, 2013, Namaz, along with several other defendants, was found guilty of all charges and sentenced to life in prison by the Tenth Court of Serious Crimes in Istanbul, the independent news portal Bianet reported. The journalist was being held at Edirne F Type High Security Closed Prison.

Lawyer Tuncer told CPJ that the defense believed the verdict to be “unlawful.”Namaz has appealed his verdict before Turkey’s Supreme Court of Appeals. The appeal was pending in late 2013.