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Turkey: Verdict expected in trial of writer Yavuz Ekinci

Friday 7 January 2022 - 9:50am

Yavuz Ekinci (Credit: Ege Tonbul)

Update - 31 March 2022

On 31 March, the Istanbul 34th High Criminal Court found Yavuz Ekinci guilty of ‘making terrorist propaganda’ and handed a suspended sentence of one year, six months and 22 days in prison. The court suspended the sentence on condition that he be on probation for one year, six months and 22 days. Ekinci said he would appeal. PEN International calls on the Turkish authorities to overturn his conviction and drop all charges against him.

The Turkish authorities must acquit Yavuz Ekinci of terrorist propaganda charges, PEN International said today, as the writer faces up to seven-and-a-half years in prison over his social media posts. A verdict in the case is expected to be announced at the next trial hearing on 11 January 2022. PEN International further calls on the Turkish authorities to stop using overbroad anti-terrorism laws to curb peaceful expression.

Yavuz Ekinci has been charged with ‘making terrorist propaganda’ under Article 7/1 and 2 of Anti-Terror Law No. 3713, for eight tweets published on his Twitter account in 2013 and 2014. The tweets – none of which promote or incite violence – for the most part related to the Newroz (New Year) celebrations in Diyarbakır, south-eastern Turkey, and to the battle of Kobane in Syria. Tens of thousands of people have been facing arrest and prosecution in Turkey over their social media posts in recent years. In September 2021, writer, lawyer and human rights defender Nurcan Kaya was notably sentenced to one year and three months in prison on trumped-up terrorism charges for her social media posts. The court deferred the sentence on condition that she be on probation for five years.

‘The PEN Community stands by Yavuz Ekinci and urges the Turkish authorities to acquit him. Ekinci is being targeted solely for peacefully expressing his views online. The case against him should be dropped at once, and anti-terrorism legislation no longer used as a pretext to repress freedom of expression,’ said Ma Thida, Chair of PEN International’s Writers in Prison Committee.

Background

Yavuz Ekinci, 42, has received multiple prestigious awards for his short stories, including the 2005 Haldun Taner Award and the 2007 Yunus Nadi Award. His work focuses on the plight of Kurdish people in Turkey and has been translated into English, German, and Kurdish. He currently works as a teacher in Istanbul.

PEN International has repeatedly condemned the Turkish authorities’ use of overbroad counter-terrorism laws to target dissenting views. Those targeted are typically charged with defamation, insulting the president, or making terrorist propaganda, landing scores of journalists, artists, and academics with fines and prison sentences.

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

For more information about PEN’s work on Turkey, 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