Journalist Özcan Keser, sentenced to 9 years in prison, wrote a letter from the Tekirdağ prison explained the unlawfulness he had experienced. Stating that even his brother’s rent money sent to him was considered a crime, Keser stated that he had been in prison for 45 months, he was left alone, and that he did not receive any support from professional organizations.
Journalist Özcan Keser was first dismissed from his job with the Decree Law after OHAL was declared in 2016, and was arrested on suspicion of “escaping,” although he went to testify with his own feet. He was imprisoned for 1 year without even knowing what he was accused of. 12 months later he learned about the charges against him. He was not even taken to court. After 3 hearings online, he was sentenced to 9 years in prison through the SEGBİS system. He has been in prison for 45 months, the file is at the stage of the Supreme Court. Prisoners who had been in prison for such a long time were generally released until the decision of the upper court was finalized but they did’t let him go.
“I WRITE AS A JOURNALIST TO PASS INTO HISTORY”
Özcan Keser responded to the charges against him by writing a letter from the prison. “Maybe this is not going to be published anywhere. As just a journalist, I wrote what I experienced to pass into history. ” Keser said that he had been carrying a yellow press card for 19 years and that he was just a journalist. He said that even the rent money that his brother sent to him was considered a crime.
“I WAS LEFT ALONE”
“I’m all alone right now. I have not received any support from the professional organizations I am a member of. I didn’t even get a card on the journalists day. ” Keser ended his letter with his 6-year-old daughter’s sentences. “Dad It has been years, I started school, learned how to read you are still not here. When will you come? Please come back to us I missed you a lot.… ”
Here is the entire 3-page letter written by Özcan Keser;
“I’m a Journalist, Not a Terrorist”
Hello, I’m Özcan KESER. In Turkey, accused of journalistic activities, I am one of the 126 journalists held in prison.
Nearly 20 years in the Media Industry; I worked as a reporter, producer and editor. My news and interviews were published in various newspapers, TV, magazines and websites. I received awards for my professional achievements.
I am a member of Turkey Journalists’ Society (TGC), Press Release Contact and Postal Workers Union (Haber-Sen), the Parliament Correspondents Association (PMD). I also own a 19-year Yellow Press Card. Lastly, I was working as a reporter for Turkey Radio and Television Corporation (TRT).
July 15, 2016 abhorrent state of emergency after coup attempt in Turkey (State of Emergency) was declared. However, I was among the many Press Laborers who were dismissed even though they had nothing to do with the coup attempt. Before I was tried, I was declared a terrorist by the Decree Law (KHK) lists published on the internet. My press card, passport, credit cards were canceled. My life has turned upside down. Me and my family have been left to civil death.
When I found out that an investigation was opened against me after the incident, I went to the police station and was detained. Before the court found out what I was accused of, I was arrested with the suspicion of “Suspicion of Escape” without cosidering that I came to the center by myself. Neither I nor my lawyer have learned about the allegations about me in the investigation file for nearly 12 months.
I had a lot of unlawfulness during my trial. Before I was taken to the courtroom in the third session of the court, my trial with Video Conference (SEGBİS) was completed. I was accused of 9 years of imprisonment only for my activities that are required by my journalism profession. (the decision has not been finalized and is under appeal in High Court YARGITAY) Discrimination was made even when I was sentenced. The discount even applied to all kinds of criminal defendants in Turkey didn’t applied to me. Even if tens of thousands of people tried with the same allegations were sentenced, they were released because the appeal phase could take a long time. However, this was not applied to me.
I have been deprived of my liberty for 45 months on the date I wrote this letter. I’m all alone right now. I have not received any support from the professional organizations I am a member of. I did not even get a card on the Journalists’ Day. Only Turkey Journalists Association (TGC) is published on the website of “Arrested Journalists in Turkey” includes my name in the list. I want to tell what happened to me by taking shelter in your understanding and patience. How I lost my profession, I was accused and punished for my journalistic activities, in short, how I was declared a terrorist….
First of all, I will look through the claims made by the local court for my professional activities and implications for membership of a terrorist organization. Because it is claimed that “There is not a single imprisoned journalist in Turkey prisons”. So what was the accusation against 9 years of punishment against me with a claim of being member of the armed terrorist organization even though I have no weapons;
- To be an employer of “Cihan News Agency” National and International permissible activities of all kinds of media organizations in Turkey, Political Parties, Public Institutions that subscribe to, 10 years ago
- The allegation that I had a phone-call years ago (date and content uncertain) with journalists, public officials, representatives of non-governmental organizations for news and interviews,
- Claim that I sent a message to my journalist colleague with “news content”,
- The claim that “I was appointed to TRT from Cihan News Agency”. However, there can be no public appointment from the private sector. I had submitted documents to the court showing that I had been fired from my job at the agency in question.
- While working at the same agency, “salary account opened in Bankasya years ago”,
- The claim that “I took reference from a journalist when applying to TRT”. A situation that can occur in the natural flow was considered a crime.
- The claim that I have downloaded a “chat program” that is stated by the authorities, which is free and easily downloaded from Apple Store and Google Play,
- The claim that I “contacted” with names whose profession is Journalism through this program, (Again, without content)
- The accusation against a “handwritten” report and “intelligence information note” stating that some journalists, including me, are using Bylock,
I cannot pass here without stating the following statements that a lawyer has said in court; “Although it is not known which legal and technical criteria are prepared and audited by being respected, it is now known to the public that almost everyone is a bylock user. If someone is not already using bylock, they will have used it in the past or will use it in the future. ”
- Another tragicomic claim; The accusation of “sending money to my brother”. Whereas, considering the MASAK reports in the file attachments, contrary to the claim, it would be seen that my brother sent me money and that it was a house rent. Even this was justified on charges of membership of a terrorist organization.
All these statements and the accusations against me are indicative of being punished only for my activities as a requirement of my journalism profession. However, in the reasoned decision, no determination was made regarding the position and hierarchy of the terrorist organization. There is no evidence and action that can be considered concretely for myself. Instead of these, the allegations I mentioned above were made and it was claimed that there was contact and communication with the terrorist organization.
I have not told you about how I was arrested without evidence, that I was ill-treated in custody, that I was forced to live in prison’s inhuman conditions, and that my right to defense was restricted, and I was not “fairly prosecuted” and other similar sufferings. I don’t want to tell you more and bore you more. I have already mentioned these in detail in the defenses I made during the appeal and the Supreme Court.
Maybe this is not going to be published anywhere. As a journalist, I wrote about what I experienced in the name of passing into history. I want to finish my letter with the words of my daughter, who is now 6 years old now;
“Dad It’s been years, I started school, learned how to read you are still not here. When will you come? Please come back to us. I miss you so much… ”
Thank you for your interest, I hope you will always be free,
2 No.lu T TİPİ C.İ.K.