Artist and journalist Zehra Doğan was released yesterday from Tarsus prison in Mersin, Turkey, after serving over five hundred days behind bars. Doğan was given a prison sentence of two years, nine months and 22 days on a charge of ‘propagandising for a terrorist organisation’ for her work as a painter and journalist. Doğan should never have spent a day in prison.
'Zehra Dogan has been released and she finally has her freedom to continue to be an artist and human rights activist. At the same time, we must remember all those political prisoners that still remain in custody across the world. We strongly support them and demand their freedom. We must continue to support the cause of individual freedom, freedom of speech and the work of a free and independent press. We must continue to work together in protecting human rights and human dignity,' said Ai Weiwei, artist and activist.
While we welcome her release, her imprisonment is a stark reminder of the difficult situation for free expression in Turkey, and the hefty price those who criticise the authorities are forced to pay.
PEN International reiterates its call to the Turkish authorities to end their crackdown on freedom of expression and release all those imprisoned for their peaceful exercise of this fundamental right.