Writer Ayşe Düzkan on Tuesday surrendered to authorities to serve an 18-month prison sentence handed down for serving as the symbolic editor-in-chief of the now-closed Kurdish Özgür Gündem newspaper for one day.
Before her transfer to Bakırköy Women’s Prison in İstanbul, Düzkan told journalists and her friends, “I feel good, I am happy, see you soon!”
Düzkan previously announced in her column in the Yeni Yaşam daily on December 10 that she would serve her jail time. She also pointed out that more than 50,000 people are currently imprisoned in Turkey for political reasons. “Around 150 of them are journalists. I say ‘around’ because the figure keeps changing,” she added.
Fifty-six journalists and writers participated in the Özgür Gündem daily’s “Editor-in-Chief on Watch” campaign held between May 3-August 7, 2016. Turkish prosecutors launched investigations into 50 of the symbolic editors-in-chief, and 37 of them have received prison sentences of varying length.
Last November a regional appeals court upheld a local court’s ruling sentencing journalists Ayşe Düzkan, Hüseyin Aykol, Memet Ali Çelebi, Hüseyin Bektaş and Ragıp Duran to prison for spreading terrorist propaganda.
Turkey is the biggest jailer of journalists in the world. The most recent figures documented by SCF show that 236 journalists and media workers were in jail as of January 29, 2018, most in pretrial detention. Of those in prison 161 were under arrest pending trial while only 75 journalists have been convicted and are serving their time. Detention warrants are outstanding for 152 journalists who are living in exile or remain at large in Turkey.