Writers in Prison

After four and a half years in an Istanbul prison, Asiye Guzel Zeybek still does not know what charges she faces. In February 1997, Zeybek, a journalist and editor, was among ten people arrested for alleged connections with the now banned Marxist-Leninist Communist Party. When her case was brought before the prosecutor last June, her lawyer - who she is allowed to consult only twice a month, and never in private - asked for her release pending a formal trial.

The judge refused, on the grounds that the accusations against her are so severe, and therefore the sentence will be so heavy, that a preliminary release is unthinkable. Zeybek alleges that in the early days of her imprisonment, she was raped by eight policemen; she has since published a book giving an account of her ordeal. In December last year, during jail riots that pitted prisoners against prison guards and the military, she was hit by two bullets, one in the back and the other in her leg. She is slowly recovering from these injuries, but still limps and is in poor health.

Zeybek is expected to be brought again before the Istanbul Security Court on 21 September, when she will probably be tried and sentenced. International PEN is deeply concerned by her continuing detention and is calling for her release. Appeals can be sent to:

His Excellency Hikmet Sami Turk
Minister of Justice
Adalet Bakanligi
Ankara 06440
(Fax: 00 +90 312 417 3954)

Anne M Sebba is an author and journalist

PEN is the only international writers' association. It was founded in 1921 and its charter has always been of unique and fundamental importance to the creativity of writers of all disciplines, as well as to the survival of editors, publishers and the literary infrastructure. Its objectives are to uphold freedom of expression wherever it may be threatened, to champion writers in prison and under oppressive regimes, to promote greater intellectual and intercultural understanding and co-operation via writers and the written word, and to act as an advocate for literature, literacy and related causes.