The following questionnaire, conducted by P24 Platform for Independent Journalism, is part of a series 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 series is also aimed at helping improve their prison environment.
Nedim Türfent answered the questionnaire during a prison visit by P24’s lawyers in June 2018.
Name: Nedim Türfent
Prison: Van Maximum Security Prison
Detained since: May 13, 2016
In pretrial detention or under sentence: Under sentence
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 have been held in a [single person] cell for the past 14 months. During daytime, I can go out on the courtyard, which I share with two to three inmates.
2. How many hours a day are you allowed to go out to the courtyard or prison yard?
I can enjoy fresh air for seven or eight hours a day during winter. This period is a couple of hours longer during summer. I am allowed to go out on the courtyard of my prison cell.
3. Have you had any problems regarding the food served in prison? Does the food meet your health and/or dietary requirements?
Generally speaking, there are no problems concerning the food served in the prison. As far as I know, food that is suitable for special diets is also available.
4. Have you had any problems in meeting your day-to-day needs such as heating, warm water for shower/bath, laundry, cleaning, etc.?
At times water or power outages occur. We have warm water [for showering/bathing] for two hours every day. Since the prison cell was built in its entirety of concrete and iron, even in the summer it can be extremely cool/cold inside the cell.
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?
Referral to a hospital often takes too long. Despite having been referred to a dental hospital on January 17, for four months I was not taken to the hospital that is only a 20-minute drive from the prison. Inmates are overall dissatisfied with hospital referrals. We are subjected to verbal harassment from soldiers [escorting us] while we are being transported to and from the hospital.
6. Have you had any problems sending/receiving letters?
I have to self-censor my letters. In case a letter includes critical comments about the prison (or about the government) it is confiscated [by the prison administration].
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?
In prisons, which have been marked by the State of Emergency sentiment, critical books, magazines, newspapers which are not officially banned can be confiscated by the “educational board.” We are allowed to have 12 books in our cells.
8. How often can your lawyers or your immediate family visit you? Are other relatives or friends allowed to visit you?
My parents live in Yüksekova, which is far [from Van], so I do not expect them to visit regularly. They visit at least once every month. As to my lawyers, they have been visiting me on a monthly basis lately. Visitations from friends [where two non-family persons are allowed visitation so long as they are accompanied by a member of the inmate’s immediate family] has been restricted ever since a state of emergency was declared.
9. Have you been visited by a member of the parliament? If yes, could you please name those who came to your visit?
I haven’t been visited by any politician. I am considering giving a gift to the first politician to come visit me. Our doors are open!
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 didn’t know we could do that until you told me. Thank you for that. I prepared my defense statements in handwriting. Since I talked about journalism [in my defense statements] it was quite easy.
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?
When I was transferred to this prison on April 26, 2017, I was forced to undergo strip search during admission. Lately I haven’t been subject to any physical or verbal harassment. The officials here are so unbothered as to tell us to “go complain” about violations [in the prison].
12. Have your demands in your petitions been met? Which of your requests have or have not been met?
I kept filing petitions for around a year for the right to take part in sport-chat activities (which is normally available for all inmates). I have only recently been given that right, for one hour. I and fellow reporter/inmate Ziya Ataman have filed numerous petitions asking to be placed in the same prison room, which have been rejected for no obvious reason.
13. Please name any other problems/demands/shortcomings not mentioned above.
We need books, newspaper and magazines here. Apart from these, the biggest demand is the demand for solidarity. For the solidarity among us to have grown this much gives us hope. We are grateful for your solidarity and for this survey.