English PEN gives honorary membership to jailed Kurdish journalist

Writers association English PEN announced on Thursday that imprisoned Kurdish journalist Nedim Türfent was to be made an Honorary Member.

Türfent has been in jail in Turkey since May 2016, accused of membership of a terrorist organisation.

The journalist had been working in the country’s southeast as a correspondent for the Dicle News Agency (DIHA), which was also shut down by a presidential decree after the July 15, 2016 attempted military coup.

Türfent, responding to Ahval’s questions from prison last November, said, “I am in prison because of my journalistic activities. In our country, undoubtedly, touching the status quo on its sore spot comes at a price. I had been harassed many times by the security forces and received death threats. The price I have paid is heavy indeed.”

Türfent’s defence team had said he faced jail time as a result of fabricated evidence and false testimony. Witnesses have since said they had been tortured by security forces to sign documents, which were then used against Türfent, Bianet reported.

In a statement to English PEN, Türfent said that the award “will open a new window in my cell in this depressing and draining prison. I feel as though, if I were to pile up my books, one atop another and stand on them, I will be able to look out of this new window and see much further than I do at present.”

We're delighted to welcome imprisoned journalist and poet Nedim Türfent as an Honorary Member of English PEN https://t.co/zCfNWtXxVZ #FreeNedim pic.twitter.com/JYSlCwENn4

— English PEN (@englishpen) September 17, 2020

Turkey ranked 154th place in the 2020 World Press Freedom Index, according to a Reporters without Borders (RSF) report evaluating the status of journalists in 180 countries.

“Turkey is more authoritarian than ever,” the press freedom watchdog said, adding that media censorship, especially online media, has increased since the previous index.