Saturday, November 28, 2020

‘Not just coronavirus but injustice also kills,’ jailed journalist says

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Büşra Erdal, a jailed journalist struggling with a judicial system that has deteriorated since a coup attempt in Turkey in 2016, said in a recent letter that it’s not just the coronavirus but also injustice that kills.

Erdal has been held in İstanbul’s Bakırköy Prison since 2016, among the dozens of journalists jailed immediately after an abortive putsch, for alleged membership in the Gülen movement, which is accused of orchestrating the failed coup. The movement strongly denies any involvement.

She was given a six year, three month jail sentence, and her appeal is pending at the Supreme Court of Appeals.

Even if the high court upholds the sentence, she has already served the required 44 months and is entitled to be released on probation.

The prosecutor investigating her case cited Erdal’s news stories and tweets as well as stating that she had been working for the Zaman newspaper, a daily affiliated with the Gülen movement.

Ali Akkuş, another journalist tried in the same case as Erdal, recently was released on probation, a decision that indicates discrimination even among jailed journalists.

“Since the Supreme Court of Appeals is delaying the verdict, I’m being forced to suffer more because I already served my time,” Erdal wrote in the letter to the Ahval news website.

“I have been kept in a one-person cell for months, which seems like a lifetime,” she said.

“Moreover, due to the measures taken for the coronavirus outbreak, I am sharing this narrow cell with someone because there’s very little free space in prison. I can’t breathe or move here,” she added.

Following the 2016 coup attempt, the Turkish government began to use anti-terror laws to silence its critics, jailing thousands of people from various segments of society.

Many people suffered from additional injustice like Erdal due to arbitrariness in the execution of sentences.

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