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Jailed Zaman journalist Alkan says no regrets about his writings, ready to die in jail

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Ahmet Turan Alkan, a columnist from the now-closed Zaman daily who was jailed in the aftermath of a failed coup attempt in Turkey on July 15, 2016, has sent a letter from Silivri Prison, where he has been incarcerated for 22 months.

In his letter Alkan, 65, explains how his trial is politically motivated and lacks any legal ground while he courageously says he has never had any regrets about writing the articles that are now being presented as criminal evidence against him.

The writer, who faces a life sentence and an additional 15 years on coup and terror charges, says he will never apologize to the government for simply expressing his critical views and is ready to remain behind bars, and even die there.

The full text of Alkan’s letter is as follows:

Thought crimes were a thing of the past

I am a thought criminal…

Thought crimes have become a thing of the past all around the world. Like tuberculosis, malaria or smallpox, thought crimes have been eradicated. Unfortunately, they are being rekindled in my country.

There is a strong disproportion between the punishments sought and the acts that have been committed. The judiciary has come under the complete control of the government and lost its independence and impartiality in the aftermath of the failed coup attempt in Turkey on July 15, 2016.

The ratio of those who lack confidence in the Turkish judiciary now exceeds 85 percent.

My colleagues and my fourth and probably last hearing will take place May 10-11, 2018. The court, which is under heavy political pressure, will rain down the maximum penalties on us, journalists and writers.

The penalty given to someone for expressing their views is a life sentence, in other words, a death penalty. Turkey’s Constitutional Court and the European Court of Human Rights have made three decisions in our favor that could all be precedents in our cases, but the court does not apply them and resists doing so.

‘His majesty’s law is in effect’

The state of law was shelved in Turkey in 2014, and it was replaced by a state that is governed by laws enacted by the government to achieve its goals. Following the July 15 coup attempt, what is in effect is arbitrary law, in other words, “His majesty’s law.”

I am proud of what I have written and my ideological stance. I have never regretted what I wrote. I did not apologize to the government, nor will I do so.

I am being tried by such a court that even if I were to bring the 10 commandments from Mount Sinai like Moses as if they were evidence in my favor or that of my defense, they would not care. Even if the Angel Gabriel were to appear, they would attempt to arrest him, too.

I know the authority that will influence the court, but since the first hearing of my trial, I have deemed it humiliating to appeal, and I still think so.

‘I prefer to remain jailed due to his oppression than to be released thanks to his courtesy’

I prefer to remain jailed due to his oppression than to be released thanks to his courtesy. This is an honor and a source of pride for me.

Everyone should know this and hear this once again: This is a politically motivated case. This is a ridiculous, baseless and unlawful case.

Here, not offenses but intentions, not actions but ideas and not concrete evidence of crime but political stances are being made the subjects of a trial.

They could give me an aggravated life sentence, but they cannot legally convict me of a crime, and more importantly they cannot make me feel embarrassed. They can keep me in prison, but they cannot charge me with a concrete crime. 

‘They can kill me but never make me feel ashamed’

In this jail they can kill me, but they can never make me feel ashamed.

I am proudly standing behind what is presented as evidence of crime against me. Yes, I wrote for the Zaman daily. Yes, I wrote the articles that the prosecutor added to my dossier three years later as evidence of crime. I have no regrets. I fully carried out my duty as a journalist, I did not applaud corruption, I did not welcome theft, I did not flatter oppressors, I did not act as if these did not exist.

Yes, I am Ahmet Turan Alkan, I am a writer of the Zaman daily. I am a critic. Yes, I gave trouble to the government some time ago, and it looks I am still giving them a headache.

‘I will not lick the knife cutting my throat’

I will not lick the knife cutting my throat. I will not beg pardon from the oppressor. I will not beg the civil servants of the government and say, “Please release me.”

I am appealing to the conscience of the people who believe in freedoms, fundamental human rights and democracy. Although you don’t know me or any of us well, I offer my and my family’s sincere thanks to you for standing with us in our just struggle.

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