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.
The following questionnaire, prepared 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 series is also aimed at helping improve their prison environment. Ahmet Turan Alkan answered the questionnaire during a prison visit by P24’s lawyers in June 2018. Name: Ahmet Turan Alkan Prison: Silivri Prison, Istanbul Detained since: July 30, 2016 In pretrial detention or under sentence: Pretrial detention 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 share a three-person cell with two other inmates. 2. How many hours a day are you allowed to go out to the courtyard or prison yard? We are allowed to go out to the courtyard of our cell from 8:30 in the morning until around 7:30-8:00 p.m. The door to the cell’s courtyard remains open until sunset. The top part of the courtyard is covered with wire mesh. 3. Have you had any problems regarding the food served in prison? Does the food meet your health and/or dietary requirements? I know that those who have to eat a certain diet are given food in line with the requirements of their regimen. Generally speaking, the food is alright. I believe one should not expect too much, considering the number of inmates in the prison. 4. Have you had any problems in meeting your day-to-day needs such as heating, warm water for shower/bath, laundry, cleaning, etc.? No. We have warm water all the time. We can either do our own laundry or use a laundry service. We did not have any problems with heating during winter either. We do our own cleaning inside the cell, and we buy our own cleaning products. 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 have been able to obtain my prescribed medicines regularly. We sometimes have difficulty in accessing a doctor, though -- it takes one or two days. But when we have to be referred to a hospital, that takes around a week. 6. Have you had any problems sending/receiving letters? Letters sent via the regular postal service are delivered in a month, at the earliest. Those sent by express mail service (EMS) are delivered in a week, the earliest. Still, several letters that I knew had been mailed to me were never delivered. For instance, I received a letter just yesterday through the EMS, and it was sent 13 days ago. 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? Each of us is allowed to keep a maximum of 10 books in the prison cell. Periodicals are also part of this limit. We are allowed to subscribe to newspapers on a monthly basis. 8. How often can your lawyers or your immediate family visit you? Are other relatives or friends allowed to visit you? Neither my family nor my friends have been allowed visitation. Apart from visits from lawyers and immediate family, inmates are not allowed from their prison cells. 9. Have you been visited by a member of the parliament? If yes, could you please name those who came to your visit? A number of MPs, all of whom are Republican People’s Party (CHP) deputies, visited me here. The first one was Utku Çakırözer. 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? I wrote my first defense statement in handwriting; we were allowed to use a computer only two hours every week, so it was not enough. Later on that restriction was lifted so I was able to prepare my final defense statement on a computer. 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? The gendarmerie often treat us rudely while we are brought to and from the courtroom for hearings. But inside the prison I have not been subject to any serious ill-treatment. 12. Have your demands in your petitions been met? Which of your requests have or have not been met? Filing petitions is a mere formality here: we are required to make all kinds of requests through petitions, but the response from the prison management is entirely arbitrary. My requests for stationery have not been met. The petition is like a single-channel communication method here -- most of the time we get no response. 13. Please name any other problems/demands/shortcomings not mentioned above. I am into drawing and music. I was sent pencils, drawing paper, and a “cura” [a type of the local musical instrument bağlama], but they were all rejected by the prison management. I was informed verbally about these by the prison management.