Nedim Türfent, a correspondent for the pro-Kurdish Dicle News Agency (DİHA) that was closed down with an emergency decree, was arrested on May 12, 2016, in the eastern province of Van as part of an investigation launched by the public prosecutor’s office in Yüksekova, a district in the southeastern province of Hakkari.
On May 13, Türfent was imprisoned pending trial on the charge of “membership in a terrorist organization,” based on some of his reports for DİHA and secret witness testimony. He was first sent to Hakkari Prison but was later transfered to Van and has changed prisons several times since then.
In a letter in May from Van T-Type Prison, where he was sent to on April 26, Türfent said he was held in solitary confinement for three weeks since his transfer to the facility. Türfent said the prison administration has rejected his requests to move to three-inmate cells, saying they are all occupied. Türfent also complained that he has not been given any book yet from the prison library.
According to media reports, a 23-page indictment prepared by Hakkari Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office lists some meetings and interviews of Türfent as criminal activities. The indictment also includes statements given to the police by some 20 people, who allegedly said that Türfent “aided the terrorist organization” with the reports he filed and the footages he filmed.
The prosecutor accuses Türfent of being a member of the terrorist group — apparently in reference to the PKK — saying he acted under instructions from the terrorist organization, that he acted as the media agent of the group and that he had “organic” links that presented “continuity, intensity and diversity.”
The prosecutor also lists some social media posts of Türfent as “terrorist propaganda,” saying they were aimed at legitimizing the group’s violent methods and its use of force.
On June 14, 2017, the first hearing of Türfent’s trial was held at Hakkari 2nd High Criminal Court, more than a year after he was jailed.
Twelve out of 13 witnesses who were heard by the court said they gave testimony against Türfent under torture. Türfent, who presented his defense at the hearing, said he acted as a journalist and did what his profession required him to do. Despite witness testimonies disavowing earlier statements, the court ruled to keep Türfent in pre-trial detention.
The court convicted Türfent of “membership in a terrorist organization” in the fifth and final hearing of the trial against him on December 15, 2017.
The court initially handed down seven years to Türfent, but increased this term to eight years and nine months on the grounds that his “actions had been continuous.” The court also ruled not to release Türfent for the duration of the appeal process.