P24 stands with jailed journalists in first prison visit

Veysel Ok of P24’s Legal Unit visits five journalists who are in prison over their news reporting



Five journalists who are being kept in Istanbul's Silivri Prison pending trial over their news reporting sent letters to the Platform for Independent Journalism (P24), following a visit of solidarity on Tuesday by P24's lawyer.
Attorney-at Law Veysel Ok from P24's Legal Unit visited Cumhuriyet daily's Editor-in-Chief Can Dündar, Ankara Bureau Chief Erdem Gül; Nokta magazine's Editor-in-Chief Cevheri Güven and Managing Editor Murat Çapan and journalist Mehmet  Baransu in Silivri Prison Tuesday afternoon.
Dündar and Gül have yet to receive an official indictment, but they will likely be accused of “espionage” over reports published by their newspaper suggesting that the Turkish government supplied weapons to armed groups in Syria. They have been in jail for nearly two weeks. 
The Nokta journalists have been formally indicted – a very recent development – and are pending trial for “inciting the public to armed revolt against the Turkish government and its president.”
Mehmet Baransu, a columnist for Taraf newspaper, has not been formally charged despite being incarcerated for over ten months.
During the visit, Veysel Ok presented the journalists with a letter signed by P24 executives and staff along with copies of the books Roman Gibi (Like a Novel), the autobiography of Sabiha Sertel, one of Turkey's first professional female journalists and a progressive writer; Hatırladıklarım (What I remember), a memoir by Zekeriya Sertel, one of the forefathers of modern Turkish journalism, and Davamız ve Müdafaamız (Our case and our defense), co-written by the Sertels as an account of their arrests following modern Turkey's first police raid on a printing house, which took place on Dec. 4 1945. All three titles deal with one of the most significant moments in the history of press freedom in Turkey.
Ok, who shared his impressions from the visit said Cumhuriyet's Erdem Gül appeared “strong and cheerful.” Gül and Dündar have been imprisoned for the first time, a situation which Gül described saying, “We are still rookies.” The P24 lawyer noted that Cumhuriyet Editor-in-Chief Dündar also appeared strong, and looking sharp in a formal-looking suit. 
Nokta Editor-in-Chief Güven, who has been in jail for about three weeks longer than the Cumhuriyet journalists, shared his concerns over rights violations in prison, such as arbitrary limitations imposed on the duration of visits by family members. Nokta's Managing Editor Çapan “looked calm, but he was warm as usual,” Ok said. Çapan said he was getting used to the prison environment.
Baransu, who now defines himself as a “veteran prisoner,” told Ok that the main idea behind putting journalists in prison is to make sure that journalists don't engage in journalism. Baransu, yet to be indicted in the case which he was arrested for, spends most of his time in prison playing sports, reading the Koran and preparing defense statements for his ongoing trials where charges have in fact been formally brought against him.
Our lawyer said talks with the five journalists have been “warm and inspiring.” P24 will continue showing solidarity with imprisoned journalists and those facing harassment from the government or other power centers for their work.
Scanned images of the letters written to P24 by four of the five journalists we have visited and their translations can be found below:

Letter from Erdem Gül
To Hasan Abi*, Ahmet Abi*, Yasemin and Doğan,
By Ahmet Hakan's count, we are in the 13th day of our imprisonment. This is why we are still complete rookies at this. Neither Can nor I have had any experience of imprisonment previously. I know about it, through my father, because of his days in prison during the September 12 coup period. But the experience of imprisonment is not genetically transferred from father to son. Our attorney friend came to visit us here. We are grateful. One would expect us to talk about “legal” matters, but those can wait. The law can wait a little bit. It is the warm conversation that matters.
I greet you all with the friendliest and sincerest of feelings.
I feel at ease, experiencing emotions light as a feather. It is safe inside. It is those who are outside that I worry about.
Erdem Gül 

* Abi, literally “older brother” is used as a title of respect in Turkish

Letter from Can Dündar
Dear Doğan
Hasan Abi
I have received your letter. I am tasting the poison, which they say “Every journalist will one day taste.” This has become a natural part of our careers… For now, I really don't have much to complain about except that I can't follow T24 in here…
I hope to get out as soon as possible and get together with you all. Greetings and warm regards to all of you.

December 07, 2015 Silivri
Can Dündar

Letter from Cevheri Güven
Dear P24 volunteers,
The cogs of the Criminal Courts of Peace Machinery are continuing to grind journalists at an increasing rate with each new day, while trying to defend oneself is but a vain effort.
It is impossible to foresee how much further this force against us is ready to go.
But their power is not enough to destroy the solidarity of free, independent and courageous journalists.
Hope to see all of you in a future not where just the tide has turned around, but where justice truly prevails.
Cevheri Güven

Letter from Mehmet Baransu

To you, a handful of bravehearts …
In these days when breathing in my cell is an increasingly difficult affair, your letter has been a fresh whiff of breath; a sparkle of hope.
It is hard to say in these times — when murders are committed one after another, when Tahirs are made into targets for bullets, when Cans and Erdems increasingly join our lot — if it is better to be inside or outside; I will be patiently waiting for the days when we will step into freedom, when we will be pursuing stories…
I would like to extend my gratitude to all P24 members via Hasan Cemal, Yasemin Çongar, Doğan Akın, Veysel Ok, Sibel Oral, Yavuz Baydar, Metin Kıvanç Yener and Murat Şevki Çoban.
Your letter will hang on the most visible spot on the walls of my cell, and I will breathe, everyday, reading those precious lines.
These days will surely pass. And journalism and journalists will once again spread wings into freedom.
Until we meet again at a time when justice has returned,
Warmest regards,
Mehmet Baransu December 08, 2015
Silivri Dungeon F-Type Prison Ward A-3 8

To view the letter presented to the five journalists in Silivri by P24, click here.