One of Turkey’s most prominent contemporary novelists and an internationally prominent linguist who has also made widely praised translations of Western novels into Turkish were released on probation on Dec. 29 after being arrested on charges of “making terrorist propaganda” for daily Özgür Gündem, which was closed in August on terrorism charges.
Author Aslı Erdoğan and linguist Necmiye Alpay were among journalists and intellectuals tried in one of the cases into Özgür Gündem, a daily that was closed over its alleged links to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party
(PKK). Erdoğan has been held in jail for 132 days since her detention and Alpay has been held behind bars for 120 days.
“I will defend myself as if law exists,” Erdoğan told the court before starting her defense, adding that her advisory committee membership in daily Özgür Gündem was “symbolic.”
“The advisory committee hasn’t had a meeting in five years and hasn’t taken one single decision,” she also said.
Saying that she was arrested for being a member of the advisory board of the daily, “which has no authority on the completely legal newspaper,” Erdoğan added that no complaints were filed against her columns in the closed daily Radikal.
“I’m a writer and the reason I exist is to tell. The only evidence shown to me for being a member of the terrorist organization is my name on the newspaper,” she said.
“It’s another irony to try a writer for being a member of an organization who has loneliness in every line of her pieces.”
During her defense Erdoğan also said that basic law principles have been crushed with the indictment regarding her and the Özgür Gündem employees.
“The most painful thing is that a writer, who wrote eight books in 26 years and hundreds of pieces, to be accused of her pieces that are picked with tweezers,” she also told the court.
Erdoğan has published several well-received novels including “The City in Crimson Cloak”, which was also translated into English.
“They are being prosecuted for writings and thoughts that are in no way reprehensible according to Turkish law,” said Barış Yarkadaş, Istanbul MP for the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP). Another name who participated in the hearing was CHP
Istanbul deputy Sezgin Tanrıkulu.
Dozens of people gathered outside the courthouse ahead of the hearing to support the defendants. Özgür Gündem’s former editor-in-chief Eren Keskin, who was being tried without arrest, was also in the court.
Release decisions were issued for Erdoğan, Alpay, former Özgür Gündem Co-Editor-in-Chief Eren Keskin, writers Filiz Koçali and Ragıp Zarakolu, license holder Kemal Sancılı and arrested News Editor Zana (Bilir) Kaya.
Acting News Editor İnan Kızılkaya, who is also on arrest in the case, was not released.