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Turkey: Aslı Erdoğan and Necmiye Alpay acquitted Friday 14 February 2020

February 24, 2020 IN WIP
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Responding to the news that award-winning writer Aslı Erdoğan and renowned linguist Necmiye Alpay were acquitted of terror-related charges by an Istanbul court earlier today, Salil Tripathi, Chair of PEN International’s Writers in Prison Committee said:

‘We, the PEN community, are delighted with the wonderful news today from Turkey, which is all too rare: we celebrate the long-awaited acquittal of Aslı Erdoğan and Necmiye Alpay. They have endured three-and-a-half years of judicial harassment and that they were to be prosecuted for what they had written is a matter of disgrace. Such blatantly politically motivated prosecutions have become a staple of Turkey’s criminal justice system.

As we welcome this great victory for press freedom, we refuse to lose sight of those still languishing behind bars in Turkey on trumped-up charges – and we will continue to campaign for the freedom of Ahmet Altan, Osman Kavala, Nedim Türfent and Selahattin Demirtaş.

We renew our call on the Turkish authorities to end these prosecutions of writers and journalists and release them from detention, because they are being subjected to such treatment only because of the content of their writing or alleged affiliations. We call upon Turkish authorities to immediately release all those held in prison for peacefully expressing their views.’

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People say that (writers) are pretty powerless: we don’t have an army, we don’t have a bureaucracy. But if that were true, then why would writers be arrested?... Because the spoken word is powerful.

— John Ralston Saul on the work of PEN International