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Turkey: Drop charges against writer Nurcan Kaya

Friday 24 September 2021 - 8:15am

Nurcan Kaya (CC Nurcan Kaya)

Update - 27 September 2021

On 27 September, the Diyarbakır 9th High Criminal Court found Nurcan Kaya guilty of 'making terrorist propaganda' and sentenced her to one year and three months in prison. The court deferred the sentence on condition that she be on probation for five years. Her lawyers said they would appeal. PEN International calls on the Turkish authorities to overturn Kaya's conviction and drop all charges against her.

The Turkish authorities must drop all charges against writer, lawyer and human rights defender Nurcan Kaya, PEN International said today, as she faces up to seven-and-a-half years in prison over her social media posts. A verdict is expected to be announced at the next trial hearing on 27 September. PEN International further calls on the authorities to stop using overbroad anti-terrorism laws to silence writers and journalists who peacefully express their views.

Nurcan Kaya was detained at Istanbul airport on 27 October 2019. She was released after interrogation and initially placed under a travel ban, which was subsequently lifted. She was charged with ‘making terrorist propaganda’ under Article 7/2 of Anti-Terror Law No. 3713, for 19 social media posts published on her Twitter and Facebook accounts from 2016 onward. The posts, which notably mention Turkey’s military operations in Syria and mostly criticise state violence and human rights violations, do not in any way promote or incite violence. The case is reminiscent of that of writer Yavuz Ekinci, who also faces up to seven-and-a-half years in prison on trumped-up terrorism charges for his social media posts.

‘Once again, the Turkish authorities are using overbroad counter-terrorism laws to punish peaceful views. Prosecuting Nurcan Kaya for her social media posts calling for peace is terrifying, as she is facing the real threat of being sent to prison, where there will be no peace for her. As the sham criminal proceedings are set to conclude, we call on the Turkish authorities to drop all charges against Kaya and to urgently uphold the right to freedom of expression – both online and offline’, said Ma Thida, Chair of PEN International’s Writers in Prison Committee.

Additional information

Nurcan Kaya is a lawyer specialising in human rights – in particular minority rights, equality, and anti-discrimination remedies under international human rights and European Union law. She has authored several reports and articles on minority rights, including Forgotten or Assimilated?: Minorities in the Education System of Turkey, published in 2009. She is currently a columnist for Artı Gerçek, focusing on a wide range of issues, including women’s rights, peaceful protest, and minorities. She lives in Diyarbakır, southeastern Turkey.

PEN International has repeatedly condemned the Turkish authorities’ use of overbroad counter-terrorism laws to target dissenting views, including online. Tens of thousands of people have been facing arrest and prosecution for their social media posts in recent years, typically charged with defamation, insulting the president, or making terrorist propaganda.

PEN International calls on the Turkish authorities to take all necessary steps to guarantee freedom of expression online and offline, to decriminalise defamation, and to align Turkey’s counter-terrorism laws with international standards.

For more information about the state of freedom of expression in Turkey, and how the Turkish authorities are using counter-terrorism laws to target dissenting views, including online, please click here.

For further details contact Aurélia Dondo at PEN International, Koops Mill, 162-164 Abbey Street, London, SE1 2AN, UK Tel: +44 (0) 20 7405 0338 Fax +44 (0) 20 7405 0339 e-mail: Aurelia.dondo@pen-international.org