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.
Mehmet Gündem filled out the questionnaire during a prison visit in August 2018 by P24’s lawyers.
Name: Mehmet Gündem
Mehmet Gündem, a former columnist for Milliyet daily, was taken into custody on 1 November 2017 along with 44 others as part of an investigation into the Journalists and Writers Foundation (GYV), which was closed down through an emergency decree. At the end of the custody period, the court Gündem was referred to jailed the journalist pending trial on the charge of “membership in a terrorist group.” Gündem is set to appear before the 35th High Criminal Court of Istanbul on 14 August, 2018, for the first hearing of his trial — more than nine months after his arrest. If convicted, Gündem faces between 7.5 and 15 years in prison.
Prison: Silivri Prison
Detained since: 8 November 2017
In pretrial detention or under sentence: 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 three-person cell with two other inmates.
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 in front of our prison cell between 8:00 a.m. and 8:00 p.m.
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.
4. Have you had any problems in meeting your day-to-day needs such as heating, warm water for shower/bath, laundry, cleaning, etc.?
We can get our laundry done for TL 7.5. We don’t have any problems in heating or hot water.
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 don’t have any health-related problems. I’ve been to the infirmary here once only.
6. Have you had any problems sending/receiving letters?
The restriction on my correspondence has been lifted. After that, I haven’t had any trouble sending or receiving 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?
I can get the books/newspapers I want. We are allowed to have 10 books each. Textbooks are not subject to this limitation.
8. How often can your lawyers or your immediate family visit you? Are other relatives or friends allowed to visit you?
My lawyers are not subject to any restriction. Face-to-face visitation (with family) is now allowed once every month, ever since the emergency rule was lifted. But friends are not allowed to visit. Also I haven’t been able to see my relatives other than my immediate family.
On a side note, we are now allowed to exercise for one hour every week now that the emergency rule is over.
9. Have you been visited by a member of the parliament? If yes, could you please name those who came to your visit?
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 haven’t started working on my defense statement yet.
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?
I did not face any ill-treatment.
12. Have your demands in your petitions been met? Which of your requests have or have not been met?
Mostly my demands have been met.
13. Please name any other problems/demands/shortcomings not mentioned above.