Well-known activist, writer and journalist Celaletttin Can has been sent to prison to serve a 15-month sentence on conviction of disseminating terrorist propaganda for acting as the symbolic editor-in-chief of a now-closed Kurdish newspaper, Turkish Minute reported.
Fifty-six journalists, lawyers and human rights activists had served as symbolic editors-in-chief between May and August 2016 in solidarity with the now-shuttered Özgür Gündem newspaper.
Forty-nine of them were prosecuted, and the newspaper was closed by government decree in October 2016 after a failed coup that gave the government of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan vast authority under a subsequent state of emergency.
Can, the spokesperson for the 78’ers initiative, was among 13 journalists who participated in the solidarity campaign and were convicted and sentenced to prison in April 2019.
He was sent to Metris Prison in İstanbul on Thursday after he turned himself in to the police.
Can, who made a press statement in front of the İstanbul Courthouse before he was taken to prison, described his imprisonment as politically motivated and promised he would never give up at a time when journalists and writers are prosecuted due to their views and critical voices are silenced.
He also appealed to government opponents, calling on them to unite their forces to fight for the democratization of the country.
According to his lawyers and family members, Can was reportedly subjected to police mistreatment at the İstanbul Courthouse, having been put in handcuffs despite his surrender to authorities.
The activist’s lawyer, Özcan Kılıç, said putting Can in handcuffs is an arbitrary practice and an act of disrespect towards his client.
In the event his petitions concerning his right to probation and a reduction in sentence are not approved, Can will serve three-quarters of his sentence, equivalent to 11 months, 25 days.
The activist was also among the group of “wise people” selected by the Turkish government in 2013 to contribute to the settlement of Turkey’s long-standing Kurdish issue, a term prevalent in Turkey’s public discourse referring to the demand for equal rights by the country’s Kurdish population and their struggle for recognition.