In letter to Justice Minister Gül, Tanja Fajon says she is concerned about Alpay’s ongoing detention

Tanja Fajon, a Slovenian politician and a member of the European Parliament from the Social Democrats group, has requested access to visit Şahin Alpay, a septuagenarian journalist and academic imprisoned on coup charges in Istanbul.

In a letter addressing Justice Minister Abdülhamit Gül, Fajon said she was concerned about the ongoing detention of the former Zaman columnist and that she would like to personally discuss with him his physical health, as well as the legality of his detention.

In her letter, Fajon also cited the EU Human Rights Guidelines on Freedom of Expression Online and Offline, which, she said, highlight the high priority that the EU attaches to the safety of journalists and other media actors.

Alpay, a 73-year-old political scientist and a former columnist for the shuttered Zaman newspaper, faces three potential aggravated life sentences on coup charges and an additional prison term of up to 15 years on the charge of “membership in a terrorist organization.”

Alpay, who suffers from multiple health problems, has recently said in a letter from prison that his health was getting worse, noting that he was told by doctors that he needed to have an angiogram without too much delay.

Alpay, who is on trial along with 29 others, appeared before a trial court for the first time on September 18, more than a year after he was first imprisoned in late July 2016. His second hearing will be held on December 8.

Fajon’s letter to Justice Minister Gül, dated November 27, is as follows:

Dear Minister,

I am writing to respectfully request access to meet Şahin Alpay, former columnist for the
shuttered newspaper Zaman.  He is currently held in Silivri Prison.

My name is Tanja Fajon and I am a Member of the European Parliament (MEP) from Slovenia. I am a member of the Group of the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats.

I am writing out of concern for the ongoing detention of Şahin Alpay. I would like to personally meet him to discuss his physical health, the legality of his detention and his psychological well-being.

I am writing this request in line with the EU Human Rights Guidelines on Freedom of Expression Online and Offline. These guidelines highlight the high priority that the EU attaches to the safety of journalists and other media actors.  

The Guidelines also allow the EU to reaffirm its determination to promote, in its external human rights policy, the freedoms of opinion and expression as rights to be exercised by everyone everywhere, based on the principles of equality, non-discrimination and universality.

I thank you in advance for taking my request into consideration and look forward to receiving
further information on any additional requirements for a future visit to Silivri Prison.

Yours sincerely,

Tanja Fajon