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.
İbrahim Karayeğen filled out the questionnaire during a prison visit in June 2018 by P24’s lawyers.
Name: İbrahim Karayeğen
Journalist İbrahim Karayeğen worked for 12 years as a night shift editor for the Zaman newspaper before it was closed down in 2016 through an emergency decree. Karayeğen has been in detention on remand since July 2016 as part of the “Zaman trial.” Although the indictment initially accused Karayeğen of “coup” and “terrorist group membership” charges, the additional final opinion the prosecutor submitted on the case seeks up to 22.5 years in prison for Karayeğen on the charge of “leading an armed terrorist organization.”
Prison: Silivri Prison
Detained since: July 25, 2016
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 share a prison room with two other inmates. But I was transferred to this ward only after I was kept in solitary confinement for six and a half months. I had to file petitions twice to be transferred to a shared room.
2. How many hours a day are you allowed to go out to the courtyard or prison yard?
We are allowed to go out on the courtyard of the prison room. Its door opens at 8:15 a.m. right after the morning prison count. We are allowed to go out on the courtyard until 7:30 p.m. The upper part of the courtyard is covered with wire mesh.
3. Have you had any problems regarding the food served in prison? Does the food meet your health and/or dietary requirements?
No, I haven’t. I did not make any special dietary requirements.
4. Have you had any problems in meeting your day-to-day needs such as heating, warm water for shower/bath, laundry, cleaning, etc.?
None at the moment. But when I was first imprisoned, I was placed in a crowded ward — we were 24 people. However, there were only two shower-toilet facilities, which was far from meeting our needs.
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?
No, I don’t. But I am suffering from dental problems. I had to have two of my teeth pulled. My medical requests have not been met as regards dental health.
6. Have you had any problems sending/receiving letters?
The restriction on communication is still in place. I can neither receive nor send any letters.
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?
We are allowed to have a maximum of 10 books each. I haven’t had any problems with getting newspapers to read, but [the prison management] handed us a lengthy list of banned books and publishers.
8. How often can your lawyers or your immediate family visit you? Are other relatives or friends allowed to visit you?
I am not allowed to be visited by anyone other than my immediate family. My lawyer could only visit me for an hour every week; we had to be accompanied by a prison official throughout and the visit was recorded. These restrictions have lately been lifted though.
9. Have you been visited by a member of the parliament? If yes, could you please name those who came to your visit?
No, I haven’t.
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?
I am allowed to use the computers in the room where inmates can work on their defense statements for three hours every week. But this is not long enough. And my requests for extra [time] are often turned down.
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?
There have been tiny problems, but I didn’t file any complaints. This one time when I complained about the way body search was being conducted all correctional officers started shouting at me. They shouted, “We could conduct strip search if we had to.” During the time I was in solitary confinement, I was subjected to some bullying when they told me I was supposed to stand up when the correctional officer comes in.
12. Have your demands in your petitions been met? Which of your requests have or have not been met?
13. Please name any other problems/demands/shortcomings not mentioned above.
I was kept in custody for five days. I was subjected to physical violence and insult at the anti-terror branch of the Istanbul Police Department. I was subjected to inhuman and degrading treatment. I faced serious health issues during both custody and my first 45 days in prison. Despite the fact that these have all been documented in medical reports, I was denied health service. The prison doctor referred me to a hospital but that referral was rejected [by the prison administration] on grounds of the state of emergency.