14 March 2011
On 10 March 2011, Ragip Zarakolu, publisher and free expression activist, was sentenced to a fine, and author Mehmet Güler to a 15-month suspended prison term. The two were convicted of spreading propaganda seen to support the banned Kurdish Worker's Party (PKK), following the publication of Mehmet Güler's book The KCK File/The Global State and Kurds Without a State. The Writers in Prison Committee of PEN International is troubled by the sentences against Zarakolu and Güler which contravene international standards safeguarding the right to freedom of expression.
The sentences come at a time of growing number of arrests of writers and journalists, a pattern that is particularly disturbing after a period where there was an apparent easing of pressure on journalists, with fewer arrests, trials and convictions. PEN is concerned at what appears to be a reversal of the past positive trend.
For information on one of these recent arrests visit Arrests in Turkey
For previous alerts on this case go to Zarakolu on Trial
Zarakolu is 62 years old and has been fighting for freedom of expression in Turkey for over 30 years, publishing books on issues such as minority and human rights. As one of the 50 writers chosen to represent the struggle for freedom of expression since 1960 for the Writers in Prison Committee's 50th Anniversary Campaign - Because Writers Speak Their Minds - Zarakolu's case is emblematic of the ongoing struggles many writers, publishers and freedom of expression and human rights activists in Turkey continue to face.