Turkey: Sajjad Jahan Fard’s trial date set for 20 April 2017

24 February 2017 – Update #1 to RAN 03/2017

PEN International is concerned at the continued arrest and detention of Kurdish Iranian writer and journalist Sajjad Jahan Fard, and that of his friend Hassan Baladeh, who remain in pre-trial detention after a motion calling for their release was denied. Their trial will begin on 20 April on charges of “membership of a terrorist organisation”. They face up to 10 years in prison if convicted.

PEN International fears that Sajjad Jahan Fard and Hassan Baladeh are being targeted for their links with Kurdish intellectuals, academics and publishing houses. PEN International calls on the Turkish authorities to release them immediately.

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Please send appeals:

  • Calling on the Turkish authorities to release Sajjad Jahan Fard and Hassan Baladeh immediately;
  • Calling for all detained writers and journalists to be released if they are not to be charged with a criminal offence and tried promptly in accordance with international fair trial standards;
  • Calling on the Turkish authorities not to use the state of emergency to crack down on freedom of expression, peaceful dissent, civil society, media and education.

Please send appeals reiterating PEN’s calls to:

Minister of Justice Bekir Bozdağ
Milli Müdafaa Caddesi No: 22
06659, Kızılay
Ankara, Turkey
Fax: +90 312 419 33 70
Email: bekir.bozdag [at] tbmm.gov [dot] tr; ozelkalem [at] adalet.gov [dot] tr
Twitter: @bybekirbozdag

Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım
Çankaya Mah. Ziaur Rahman
Cad. Çankaya / Ankara
Tel: (+90 312) 403 50 00
Fax: (+90 312) 422 10 00

Copies to:
President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan
Cumhurbaşkanlığı Külliyesi
06560 Beştepe-Ankara
Tel : (+90 312) 525 55 55
Fax : (+90 312) 525 58 31
Email: contact [at] tccb.gov [dot] tr
Email: receptayyip.Erdoğan@basbakanlik.gov.tr
Facebook:’ ‘.((strlen(‘https://www.facebook.com/RecepTayyipErdo’)>40) ? substr(‘https://www.facebook.com/RecepTayyipErdo’,0,40).’…’ : ‘https://www.facebook.com/RecepTayyipErdo’).’‘ğan
Twitter: @RT_Erdoğan

Please send messages of support to Sajjad Jahan Fard and Hassan Baladeh in prison at the following address:
Mr. Sajjad Jahan Fard / Mr. Hassan Baladeh
Mardin E Tipi Kapalı Cezaevi, Kotek, 47100
Mardin, Turkey


Sajjad Jahan Fard and Hassan Baladeh were arrested on 3 January 2017 during a tourist visit to the city of Mardin, in Southeastern Turkey. The police accused them of taking pictures on behalf of a group with alleged links to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) with the aim of planning terrorist activities. According to their lawyer, Sajjad Jahan Fard and Hassan Baladeh were refused access to their families and legal counsel for four days. They were brought before the Prosecutor on 25 January 2017, who charged them with “membership of a terrorist organisation” under Article 314 (2) of the Penal Code, charges that they vehemently deny.

Sajjad Jahan Fard, aged 32, is a writer from Iran and a member of the Kurdish PEN Centre. He is the author of several books about Kurdish culture, language and folklore, including The Myths of the Land of Medes, A life in Silence and Names-letters of Manisht. He also works as editor of the Kurdish website Jiyar Kurd.

Freedom of expression in Turkey has deteriorated sharply since the failed coup of 15 July 2016. Over 170 news outlets have been shut down under laws passed by presidential decree following the imposition of a state of emergency, a period that has been characterised by the heavy-handed use of extraordinary powers while normal constitutional protections are suspended. As of 18 January 2017, according to PEN International’s records, at least 151 writers and journalists had been arrested and detained without charge or were awaiting trial in Turkey.

There was also massive crackdown on Turkey’s Kurdish population, with arrests of Kurdish journalists and closures of pro-Kurdish media outlets, the forced replacement of elected local officials and arrests of MPs from the pro-Kurdish HDP party. Thousands of Kurdish teachers, journalists and academics were also suspended from their jobs as part of a nation-wide purge.

While recognising the right of the Turkish authorities to bring those responsible for crimes during the attempted coup to justice, PEN International calls on the Turkish authorities to safeguard freedom of expression, human rights and respect their obligations under international law during the declared state of emergency and to release all journalists and writers held solely in connection with their peaceful exercise of their right to freedom of expression. The organisation further calls for an end of the crackdown in the Kurdish regions and for a peaceful solution to the ongoing conflict.

In January 2017, a delegation of PEN writers visited Turkey to assess the situation of freedom of expression and express solidarity with fellow writers protesting the heavy-handed clampdown in the country.