The following questionnaire, conducted by P24 Platform for Independent Journalism, is part of a survey aimed at revealing the conditions faced by journalists in prison in Turkey, either in pretrial detention or under a sentence. In addition to documenting the problems journalists might be facing during their time in prison, this survey is also aimed at helping improve their prison environment.
Ece Sevim Öztürk filled out the questionnaire during a prison visit in September 2018 by P24’s lawyers.
Name: Ece Sevim Öztürk
Ece Sevim Öztürk, the editor in chief of the news portal Çağdaş Ses, was arrested on 8 June 2018 in Istanbul as part of an investigation on grounds that she “made pro-FETÖ shares on social media in the aftermath of the 15 July coup attempt.” The prosecution requested that Öztürk be jailed on the charge of “knowingly and willingly aiding a terrorist organization without being a part of its hierarchical structure.” She was jailed pending trial on June 20. The first hearing in her trial, to be overseen by the 37th High Criminal Court of Istanbul, is scheduled for 1 November 2018.
Prison: Bakırköy Women’s Prison
Detained since: 20 June 2018
In pretrial detention or under sentence: In pretrial detention
1. Are you detained with other inmates or are you in solitary confinement? How many people do you share the prison ward/cell with?
I am detained in a solitary confinement cell. Since this kind of incarceration is a penal sanction, I am not granted the rights granted to [inmates who are detained in] wards. Therefore, there is also a restriction on my right to weekly 10 hours of conversation [with other inmates].
2. How many hours a day are you allowed to go out to the courtyard or prison yard?
I am allowed to go out on the courtyard for two hours every day. The courtyard in front of my cell is actually a shared one, but I was told there were strict orders against me making contact with other inmates.
3. Have you had any problems regarding the food served in prison? Does the food meet your health and/or dietary requirements?
I am lactose intolerant, so I asked for lactose-free milk, but there has been no response as yet. Last week, we were given mantı (Turkish beef-filled wontons) five times in a week. Since chemical additives used in the food are unhealthy, I choose not to eat.
4. Have you had any problems in meeting your day-to-day needs such as heating, warm water for shower/bath, laundry, cleaning, etc.?
Hot water is available around the clock. But I wish inmates without any income could get certain basic goods for free. Inmates are used as cheap labor in heavy work in return for amounts as low as TL 150/200 a month.
5. Do you suffer from any chronic illnesses? Do you have to take regular medication? Do you have access to a medical doctor and/or psychiatrist whenever you need? Have you had any difficulty obtaining your prescribed medicines?
I do not have to take any regular medication, but even though I had asked for vitamin-mineral supplements, I was not given any.
6. Have you had any problems sending/receiving letters?
The letters we receive are often delivered too late. But it is still better here than in other prisons.
7. Have you faced any limitations concerning books, newspapers or other publications you asked for? How many books are you allowed in your prison ward/cell?
There is no difference when you’re in a cell. There are standard rules depending on the charges:
FETÖ detainees are allowed 5 books
MLKP, PKK, DHKP-C, etc.: 15 books
Ordinary prisoners: 35 books
8. How often can your lawyers or your immediate family visit you? Are other relatives or friends allowed to visit you?
My lawyers visit me several times a week. I was also allowed visitation from three non-family visitors following the lifting of the state of emergency.
9. Have you been visited by a member of the parliament? If yes, could you please name those who came to your visit?
Yes, and I thank them all. It meant a lot to receive a visit from Mahmut Tanal on 15 July. Özgür Özel, Veli Ağbaba, Gürsel Tekin, Gamze İlgezdi, Utku Çakırözer, Turan Aydoğan also visited.
10. Have you faced any problems preparing your defense statement? Do you have access to a computer, to the library, and to your case file while working on your defense statement?
My request to work on my defense statement on a computer has still not been accepted.
11. Have you been subject to ill-treatment or any physical or verbal harassment? If so, have you filed a complaint, and if yes, what happened following your complaint?
No, I haven’t.
12. Have your demands in your petitions been met? Which of your requests have or have not been met?
Generally speaking, yes. The unit that functions the most effectively here is the library. However, the books in the library are insufficient. I wish — particularly lawyers — donated books about law to the prison library.
13. Please name any other problems/demands/shortcomings not mentioned above.
I would like to send my love to all my readers and my colleagues who have been sending me letters, and to lawyers and members of the parliament who have all been so kind in showing solidarity with me. Lots of love and sympathy to all inmates who are in prison for refusing to commit the crime of silence.