Norway, 15. November 2013
His Excellency Abdullah Gül
President of the Republic of Turkey
TC Cumhurbaşkanlığı Genel Sekreterliği
Mr Sadullah Ergin
Justice Minister of the Republic of Turkey
I write to you as the chair of the Writers in Prison Committee of Norwegian PEN, the local section of PEN International, the writer`s
and free expression organisation with 140 centres in over 100 countries around the world, including Turkey and many other countries in your region.
Fazil Say is a Turkish writer, composer and musician whose 10month suspended sentence for “religious defamation” was upheld on 20 September 2013. Say was charged with “religious defamation” under Article 216/3 of the Turkish Penal Code on 25 May 2012, with the public prosecutor seeking an increased sentence for the offence under Article 218 of the Turkish Penal Code because it was committed “via press or broadcast”. The initial trial, which concluded on 16 April 2013, resulted in Say’s conviction for “religious defamation”, and the imposition of a 10month suspended sentence that would be triggered if Say were to commit the same offence during a probationary period of five years.
On 20 September 2013, Say’s suspended sentence was upheld upon appeal, although the probationary period was reduced from five to two years. Norwegian PEN calls for his immediate and unconditional dropping of the suspended sentence against Fazil Say in accordance with Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, and Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights, both of which have been ratified by the Republic of Turkey.
Norwegian PEN is also urging the Turkish authorities to amend Article 216 of the Turkish Penal Code to ensure that any restrictions imposed on freedom of expression comply with international law.
Chair, Writers in Prison Committee of Norwegian PEN
Wergelandsveien 29, 0167 Oslo, Norway. www.norskpen.no