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.

Ziya Ataman answered the questionnaire during a prison visit by P24’s lawyers in June 2018.


Name: Ziya Ataman

Ziya Ataman, an intern reporter for the shuttered Dicle News Agency (DİHA), was arrested and jailed pending trial on the charge of “membership in a terrorist group” in April 2016 in the eastern province of Van. Ataman is standing trial alongside 18 other defendants in a case overseen by the 1st High Criminal Court of Şırnak. Ataman is charged with eight different offences, including “disrupting the unity and integrity of the state,” “attempting to intentionally kill a civil servant because of the public service he performs with premeditation,” “intentionally killing a civil a servant because of the public service he performs with premeditation,” and “attempting to premeditated murder.”

Prison: Van Maximum Security Prison 

Detained since: April 11, 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 am detained alongside two others in a ward 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 ward’s courtyard from around 6:30-7:00 in the morning until sundown. The courtyard is only eight steps wide.

3. Have you had any problems regarding the food served in prison? Does the food meet your health and/or dietary requirements? 

I broke my tooth on a little piece of stone in the bulgur served here. Previously it was very difficult to secure a visit to the infirmary. Nowadays we are allowed to go to the infirmary but this time around we cannot get satisfactory [treatment] results. I have to pay attention to my food intake due to a chronic digestive system disease, but even though I filed a petition requesting special meals that agreed with my condition, I’m still being served the same food as everyone else.

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 have warm tap water between 6:30 and 7:00 a.m. and between 11:00 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. We didn’t have any problems concerning heating in winter. As for cleaning, the inmates who were here when this facility was opened a year ago had to do the post-construction clean up themselves for four days in a row.

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 need to take regular medication for my digestive system. I can get my medicines whenever I request them by a petition.

6. Have you had any problems sending/receiving letters?

There is no restriction on sending or receiving letters, but one cargo box I was sent got lost. It had stationery material in it. Around a week after my delivery got lost, the prison management banned purchase of stationery.

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 12 books and three periodicals. Evrensel daily is usually delivered with one day delay.

8. How often can your lawyers or your immediate family visit you? Are other relatives or friends allowed to visit you?

Face to face visitation has been allowed once a month for 50 minutes for some time now. Previously that was only once every two months. There is no restriction on visits by lawyers.

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 had to prepare my defense statement in handwriting. I do not have access to a computer. As for my case file, I can access it through notifications sent to the prison.

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?

We are constantly subjected to psychological harassment by a group of correctional officers who insult us and yell at us. We are made to undergo investigations on baseless accusations based on groundless claims [by those correctional officers]. We have been filing complaints to no avail.

12. Have your demands in your petitions been met? Which of your requests have or have not been met? 

Our demands are usually met. However, as a specific example, my request to get a haircut was not met for three months. And filing a complaint about that was of no use.

13. Please name any other problems/demands/shortcomings not mentioned above.

I would like to get a copy of the novel “Portakal Ağacında Oturan Kadın” [The Inhabited Woman].

This website has been produced with the financial assistance of the European Union. The contents of this website are the sole responsibility of P24 and can under no circumstances be regarded as reflecting the position of the European Union.