Nedim Türfent has been a journalist since 2012.
In the summer of 2015, a police officer was addressing a group of people lying on the floor with their hands cuffed behind their backs, saying“You will see the power of Turks! What did the state do to you?” This video was reported as news by Türfent and he was granted with awards for it. However, he also received death threats through his social media accounts.
He was on duty during the curfews of 2015-2016 in Hakkari’s Yüksekova district. On May 12, 2016 he was taken into custody in Van in the scope of an investigation conducted by the Yüksekova Prosecutor’s Office.
Türfent was detained on May 13, 2016, on the allegation of “being a member of an organization” due to his news reports and the testimonies of anonymous witnesses. He was first sent to Hakkari Prison, then to Van M Type Prison and finally to Van T Type Closed Prison.
His prosecution was held in Hakkari 2nd Heavy Penal Court. He was demanded to be sentenced up to 22.5 years in prison and a decision was reached on Feb. 15, 2017. He was sentenced to 8 years and 9 months in prison on the charge of “being a member of an organization.” The verdict was approved by the Court of Cassation on Oct. 8, 2019. At the same time, he appealed to the Constitutional Court in July 2018 with the demand of measure and precedence, but the court still did not issue his file.
In the scope of the sentence, Türfent is imprisoned in Van F Type Prison as a prisoner on remand.
During the curfews in Hakkari, Nedim Türfent was there to report news and as a result, he was threatened through social media many times. Lastly, he was threatened through social media by an account named “@J_İ_T_E_M” sharing his photographs and writing “Resist slowly, Nedim. You are a journalist just like Mahsun, aren’t you?”
Following the threats, Türfent left the place and was taken into custody when police stopped the car he was in at the entrance of Van on May 12, 2016. He was brought to Edremit District’s Police Department and his lawyers announced that when he was being taken into custody, he laid on the floor and a gun was placed on his head with threats. Moreover, he was battered in the armored car by the special operation police. He was taken into custody in the scope of the investigation conducted by Yüksekova Public Prosecutor’s Office andhe was brought to Yüksekova on the same day. A confidentiality order was issued on his file.
After he was arrested, the @J_İ_T_E_M account that had posted a threatening message before, shared another series of messages threatening him. The posts were as “Crowing through Twitter is no go! Now do crow in the interrogation room.” “The prison do not resemble entrenching in Yüksekova with a gun in your belt, a photo-machine in your hand and a kalash [kalashnikov] in another hand, ha?” “Well Nedim, how are you otherwise? We said that we would find you wherever you hide. We keep our promises!”
In the police department, Türfent was not allowed to talk to his lawyers on May 13, he appeared in Yüksekova Courthouse. After the hearing before the prosecutor he was referred to court with the demand of arrest. Türfent was detained by the magistracy on duty. On the same day, he was brought to the Hakkari Prison and on May 24. He was dispatched to the Van M Type Closed Prison.
Türfent disclosed the things he had gone through during the custody process in a letter he wrote after he was detained:
“Two of the special operation police started to jump on my back. A police left my agency ID card near my head. Then another police turned my face to the card with a long barreled weapon and took my photograph. While doing this, he said they would post it through their social media accounts.
“They brought me to the VAN Counter Terrorism Branch Office. I was battered there. Towards evening, I was brought to the state hospital with an armoured car for a health report. During the examination the police told the doctor not to give a report for me, as they have some more things to do to me. When the police went out, I told the doctor that I was a journalist and if he did not give my report, I would make news of it. The doctor then wrote the report. After that, I was taken to go to Gever by 4 black Rangers. On the way to Gürpınar, at a desolate place, they dropped me from the car and put a black nylon bag on my head. I could see the place as the bag was a little bit transparent. All the police had masks on their faces. They threatened me by saying “Now we can shoot and throw you away in the Orman neighbourhood, we can leave a gun near you and say that he was shot during the firefight.”
After that I was brought to Yüksekova police department. The head of the department told me that Sezgin Tanrıkulu and Barış Yarkadaş, the MP’s of CHP called him. At the end of the hearing before the prosecutor, he said that “the process is different in here, even if you are not detained, some other things can happen to you.” Then I was detained. I am sharing the things I went through with the public and want to add that we will never bend down.”
Türfent’s indictment was completed by İlyas Abukan, the public prosecutor of Hakkari, nearly ten months after he was detained on March 7, 2017.
It was 23 pages long and 18 pages of it included information about the history of the PKK. Some of Türfent’s telephone calls and interviews were regarded as elements of crime.
Moreover, the testimonies of 20 people regarding Türfent were included in the indictment. Along with these people’s statements, it was claimed that Türfent was “aiding the organization” through his news reports and photographs.
The witnesses had said that “In Yüksekova, he works for the Dicle news agency which is the media outlet of the terrorist organization”, “He is the responsible person of media in Yüksekova”, “He takes the photos of trenches and barricades in Yüksekova”, I saw that he conducted interviews with the members of YPS terrorist organization”, “I know him as a journalist”, “I know that he works for DİHA.”
In the indictment, it was claimed that Türfent was acting on the directions of the organization and “He was the responsible person of the media for the organization, he complies with the organization in terms of ideas and actions, has an organic bond with the organization varying in continuity, intensity and diversity.”
In the indictment, Türfent’s social media posts were presented as evidence of “making propaganda for an organization.” The prosecutor claimed that “he was making propaganda in such a way to show the organization’s methods of force and violence and thus, making propaganda for the organization successively.” However, the indictment did not include the posts subject to the accusations.
The Hakkari 2nd Heavy Penal Court accepted the indictment and a file was opened against Türfent on the charges of “being a member of an organization” and “making propaganda for a terrorist organization” with the demand of up to 22.5 years in prison.
After the indictment was accepted, the first hearing of the trial was held on June 14, 2017 at the Hakkari 2nd Heavy Penal Court.
Türfent was detained following the statements of 20 witnesses. In the hearing, 12 witnesses out of 13 who were heard, stated they gave their testimonies under torture.
Türfent also made his defense and said that “I am a journalist, I have done my job. Journalism is not a crime!”
Despite the statements of the witnesses, the court ruled for the continuation of Türfent’s detention.
The next hearing was held on Aug. 9, 2017 at the Hakkari 2nd Heavy Penal Court. The hearing started with almost 6 hours of delay. Türfent attended the hearing through SEGBIS from the Van Prison.
D.B., a witness, who also attended the hearing through SEGBIS, said that he did not know Türfent, he heard his name for the first time in his life, and his former testimony was signed by force.
Though the witness stated this information, the court ruled for the continuation of Türfent’s detention. The next hearing of the trial was set for Nov. 1, 2017.
At the next hearing, four witnesses were heard. The hearing started with a four-hour delay and Türfent attended through SEGBIS. All four witnesses were heard through SEGBIS along with an anonymous witness. The anonymous witness said that he once “saw Türfent casually talking to a member of the organization who had blue eyes” and that Türfent was “the responsible person of media for the organization.” The other four witnesses said that they did not know Türfent and their former testimonies were signed by force.
Türfent stated the police wanted to take revenge on him and prepared his file because of a news report he made in 2015. He added that he had been detained for 539 days and demanded his release. However, the court committee ruled for the continuation of Türfent’s detention.
The 4th hearing of trial was held on Nov. 17, 2017, at the Hakkari 2nd Heavy Penal Court. Türfent attended the hearing through SEGBIS from the Van Prison.
At the hearing, the prosecutor presented his opinion on the merits of the case and demanded that Türfent should be sentenced for “being a member of an organization” and “making propaganda for a terrorist organization.” At the end of the hearing, the court announced the preceding verdict and ruled for the continuation of Türfent’s detention. The hearing was postponed to Dec. 15, 2017.
The 5th hearing was the final one. It was held on Dec. 15, 2017 at the Hakkari 2nd Heavy Penal Court. The prosecutor gave his opinion and demanded Türfent be sentenced on the charge of “being a member of an organizaiton” and the continuation of his detention.
The court announced the verdict and sentenced Türfent to 7 years in prison for “being a member of a terrorist organization” and then increased the penalty to 8 years and 9 months in prison for the allegation of the “continuity of his actions.”
In the reasoned decision of the court, it was stated that there was no evidence about the “torture” administered during the testimonies of the witnesses. It was also mentioned that “it is understood that the journalist did not make news about the events which could calm people, had not used any words which could disturb the organization and did not write even one word against the organization.”
The Court of Cassation/Appeal
The lawyers of Türfent appealed the verdict. The verdict was approved by the Court of Appeal. Upon this decision, the verdict was appealed to the Court of Cassation. 16th Penal Chamber of the Court of Cassation approved the sentence on Oct. 8, 2019.
Türfent also applied to the Constitutional Court on July 3, 2018 with the demand of measure and precedence. The Constitutional Court has not yet reached a decision.
Türfent remains under detention in the Van T Type Closed Prison.
Nedim Türfent - DİHA Trial (Indictment)