Expression Interrupted

Journalists and academics bear the brunt of the massive crackdown on freedom of expression in Turkey. Scores of them are currently subject to criminal investigations or behind bars. This website is dedicated to tracking the legal process against them.

Journalists recount life behind bars: Abdullah Kılıç

Journalists recount life behind bars: Abdullah Kılıç

The following questionnaire, conducted by P24 Platform for Independent Journalism, is part of a survey aimed at revealing the conditions faced by journalists in prison in Turkey, either in pretrial detention or under a sentence. In addition to documenting the problems journalists might be facing during their time in prison, this survey is also aimed at helping improve their prison environment. Abdullah Kılıç filled out the questionnaire during a prison visit in June 2018 by P24’s lawyers.   Name: Abdullah Kılıç Abdullah Kılıç, former Habertürk TV broadcast coordinator and former columnist for the shuttered Meydan daily, was arrested on 30 July 2016 as part of an investigation into journalists suspected of links with the banned movement led by Fethullah Gülen. Kılıç was indicted for “terrorist group membership” along with 28 other journalists. At the end of that trial, on 8 March 2018, the trial court convicted Kılıç of “membership in an armed terrorist organization” and sentenced him to 6 years and 3 months in prison. Prison: Silivri Prison  Detained since: July 2016  In pretrial detention or under sentence: in detention pending appeal    1. Are you detained with other inmates or are you in solitary confinement? How many people do you share the prison ward/cell with? I am detained alongside two other inmates in a cell designed for three people. 2. How many hours a day are you allowed to go out to the courtyard or prison yard? The doors to the courtyard open at 08:30 a.m. and close after the evening prayers. We are allowed to go out on our cell’s courtyard that covers an area of 6 meters by 9 meters. 3. Have you had any problems regarding the food served in prison? Does the food meet your health and/or dietary requirements?  The oil used in the food served here is of very poor quality. Since the food is too oily, I often skip meals or eat very little due to health concerns. 4. Have you had any problems in meeting your day-to-day needs such as heating, warm water for shower/bath, laundry, cleaning, etc.? We haven't had any problems in that area. We are doing our best to get by as much as prison conditions allow. However, under state of emergency rules, our families are only entitled to bring us fresh clothes once every 15 days. I am told that before the state of emergency, this was allowed every week. 5. Do you suffer from any chronic illnesses? Do you have to take regular medication? Do you have access to a medical doctor and/or psychiatrist whenever you need? Have you had any difficulty obtaining your prescribed medicines? I suffer from a herniated disc and gallstones. Prison healthcare officers try to help as much as prison conditions allow whenever any of those two conditions worsen. But because they are understaffed, medical treatment is sometimes delayed. 6. Have you had any problems sending/receiving letters? The court has lifted the initial restriction on my communication, but I know that the letters I sent have not been received. As for the letters I was sent, they have not been delivered to me. Actually, I do not know if I am sent letters or not. 7. Have you faced any limitations concerning books, newspapers or other publications you asked for? How many books are you allowed in your prison ward/cell?  I am allowed to use the books in the prison library. As for books we can receive in parcels, there is a 10-piece limit. 8. How often can your lawyers or your immediate family visit you? Are other relatives or friends allowed to visit you? Before the restriction on visits by our lawyers was lifted, we could see our lawyers for an hour every week. But that restriction has now been lifted. As for family, I am only allowed to be visited by my immediate family. Under state of emergency rules, “student visitation” was restricted and therefore my kids have not been able to visit me. 9. Have you been visited by a member of the parliament? If yes, could you please name those who came to your visit? No. 10. Have you faced any problems preparing your defense statement? Do you have access to a computer, to the library, and to your case file while working on your defense statement? We were given access to a computer for two hours every week. This was not enough to even examine thousands of pages of digital documents [concerning our case], let alone write a defense statement. In this sense, this was restriction on the right to defense. And after the trial court’s verdict, this permission was also revoked. 11. Have you been subject to ill-treatment or any physical or verbal harassment? If so, have you filed a complaint, and if yes, what happened following your complaint? I haven’t been subjected to any ill-treatment other than the pat-down search while leaving and reentering the cell. 12. Have your demands in your petitions been met? Which of your requests have or have not been met?  My demands to receive weekend visits from my kids and to make every other weekly telephone call in the afternoon, after my children have arrived home from school, have not been met. 13. Please name any other problems/demands/shortcomings not mentioned above.

  • Giving our laundry to our family once every 15 days and for them to be able to bring us back clean clothes every 15 days is troublesome. Back in 2016, this could be done once every week, but later a restriction was introduced.
  • I would very much like to be able to receive weekend visitation from my kids who are students.
  • Contact visitation to be limited to once every two months is a major disappointment.
  • Not being able to have any conversation with anyone other than the inmates I share the cell with, and the restriction on social activities due to state of emergency is also a major problem.
  • For inmates to be handcuffed when they are being taken to the hospital, even during the doctor’s examination, even at the emergency service, is illogical.
  • Since we were not given access to a computer, we could neither have access to the details of our case file nor the court minutes. In this sense, we were denied the right to make an effective defense statement.

 

Silivri Prison officials contacted by P24's lawyers concerning the issue of whether the restriction on "student visitation" under the state of emergency has been lifted following the end of the state of emergency said a new arrangement would be made after the new school year begins.

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