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.
Ufuk Şanlı filled out the questionnaire during a prison visit in September 2018 by P24’s lawyers.
Name: Ufuk Şanlı
Ufuk Şanlı, a business journalist for a number of media outlets including Zaman and Vatan dailies and a contributor to Al-Monitor, was arrested on 27 July 2016 as part of a crackdown on journalists suspected of being followers of Fethullah Gülen, whom the government accuses of maintaining an armed terrorist organization. Şanlı and 28 others were indicted for “membership of an armed terrorist organization,” carrying a prison term of up to 15 years. At the end of a long-running trial, on March 8, 2018, Şanlı and 24 other journalists standing trial in the case were convicted of various charges. Şanlı and 11 of his co-defendants were convicted of “membership in an armed terrorist organization” and sentenced to 7.5 years in prison.
More information about the trial can be accessed here.
Prison: Silivri Prison
Detained since: 31 July 2016
In pretrial detention or under sentence: In pretrial detention pending the conclusion of appeal
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 live with two others in a ward designed for three 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 for around 12 hours every day during summer and for 10 hours during winter months. We are allowed to go out on the courtyard of our own cell.
3. Have you had any problems regarding the food served in prison? Does the food meet your health and/or dietary requirements?
I haven’t had any problems with the food. Inmates who are dieting are being given diet food, as far as I know.
4. Have you had any problems in meeting your day-to-day needs such as heating, warm water for shower/bath, laundry, cleaning, etc.?
No, I haven’t.
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?
Doctors at the Okmeydanı Training and Research Hospital issued a health report saying I had to undergo surgery due to an illness that occured during my imprisonment. But considering the hygiene conditions in prison and the fact that I would not be able to get any help here [post-surgery] I decided not to undergo surgery. We usually don’t have too much trouble accessing the infirmary though.
6. Have you had any problems sending/receiving letters?
I was given a warning by the prison management because of a letter I sent to a colleague of mine — both because I wrote in the letter about the unlawfulness I had been subjected to, and because that friend of mine was also standing trial in a separate case. My letter was censored before it was mailed to my friend. I was banned from sending/receiving letters during my first year in detention and that letter was the first one I wrote following the lifting of the restriction.
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?
The books [that are brought to us] are handed to us after they are examined by the prison officials. Each of us is allowed to have 10 books in the cell. We are not given the Yeni Asya newspaper.
8. How often can your lawyers or your immediate family visit you? Are other relatives or friends allowed to visit you?
My first-degree relatives are entitled to visit once a week. Second- and third-degree relatives are also entitled to visit now that the state of emergency is over. My lawyers have been visiting me without trouble. But my friends haven’t been able to visit yet.
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 would expect a visit from MPs who used to be journalists at least.
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?
We were allowed to use a computer, but since there was no Internet connection, I could not access recent court decisions that could be of use in my defense statement. There are several court decisions available on [Justice Ministry portal] UYAP, but they were not up-to-date and therefore they were of no use.
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?
12. Have your demands in your petitions been met? Which of your requests have or have not been met?
We had little handheld radio receivers that we bought at the prison commissary. The prison management confiscated those in April 2017 without an explanation. I filed numerous petitions with both the prison management and the Bakırköy Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office, demanding our radios to be returned. Exactly a year after, the prison management decided to return some of the devices. Inmates whose radios were not returned had to buy new ones at the commissary.
13. Please name any other problems/demands/shortcomings not mentioned above.
Neither journalism trade unions nor the NGOs operating in the field of journalism came to visit me in prison. Many fellow imprisoned journalists here have been complaining of the same lack of interest. We would appreciate if the Turkish Journalists Association (TGC), the Turkish Journalists Union (TGS), the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), Reporters Without Borders (RSF), and — especially, since I am a business journalist — the Business Journalists Association (EGD) could demonstrate some interest.