The letter of Soner Yalçın, jailed Turkish journalist: “Is there anybody out there?”


Soner Yalcin

“Is there anybody out there?”

Every now and then,in my prison cell, where there is water shortage for 17 hours, lights are on for 24 hours and where I am being monitored by 2 different cameras at all times, I find myself saying out loud these words to myself:

“Is there anybody out there?”

I am detained pending trial for almost two years in Silivri Prison, in Istanbul. I do not know how long the legal proceedings will last and I feel like I am already doomed to be forgotten. All of this is because I have committed a major crime: thinking and being a journalist.

My name is SonerYalçın. I am 47 years old and I am a journalist for 25 years. I have been managing prominent newspapers and TV stations of Turkey. Recently I was a columnist at Hürriyet Newspaper. I have written 12 books. I have become a best-seller writer in Turkey, as all my books were sold more then 100.000 copies. I am the owner of a news portal called “”. During my entire professional life I have researched recent history of my country and wrote about killings by unidentified perpetrators, illegal organizations within the state, gangs, mafia and extreme religious factions.

I have received death threats because of what I wrote. I had to hide for months, but I have continued to write the truth.

I have testified before European Court Of Human Rights and commissions of the Turkish Parliamentary Assembly that investigated into the relations of the state with mafia.

Other than professional journalism associations, I have never been a member of a political party, association or organization. I am known in the society with my identity as a journalist and not with my political identity.

Despite of all this, I am detained because I am accused of being a member of “Ergenekon Organization”, which is not uncovered after legal proceedings that already lasted 5 years.

What do they have as evidence? Documents on state security, in Word format,discovered in the computers of my company OdaTV. These documents do not belong to us. They have been sent to our computers by a virus. We have proven this fact by expert reports submitted by three different Turkish universities and one U.S. computer and cyber crime company. We believe that a religious faction ganged up within the police organization is behind this.

In fact, 134 pages long indictment reveals what actually is the subject matter of these proceedings:

The word “news” was repeated 361 times in the indictment, “book/writing” 280 times, “column” 53 times, “interview” 26 times and “article” 5 times! There is no mention of a weapon, bomb, murder or protest in this indictment. During my interrogation all the questions that judges asked me were “why did you write about that news?” or “why did you publish that interview?”

Here is my crime: To ask questions, to seek the truth, to write about realities. In other words, my crime is doing my job.

My colleagues in Turkey do very well know that I have been thrown into jail by a diabolical plot against me. However most of them fear that if they write about this, they would either be fired or sent to jail. This is why I am writing you this letter. In my country, opinions are still perceived as a symbol of malevolence.

I am writing you this letter because you are my “partner in crime”:

We have learned about enlightenment, freedom of expression and rationalism from you.

Aren’t you Erasmus, Descartes, Montesquieu, Voltaire, Rousseau, David Hume, Kant, Marx, Webber, Sartre, Camus?

Aren’t you Bruno who lost his life for the sake of expressing his ideas?

Aren’t you Emile Zola who stood by Dreyfus?

Aren’t you Adorno who said “wrong life can not be lived rightly”?

Dear Friends,

Yes, you are my partners in crime. I invite you to take an action. Please show me that I am not alone and that I am not destined to be forgotten. Be my voice, be my pen! Bring down these prison walls built on lies.

Otherwise, in this prison cell, where I am intentionally put in isolation so that I loose
all my human qualities, where I am in great longing for the earth, flowers, trees and my son who is 12 now,I will continue to say out loud these words to myself:

“Is there anybody out there?”

*Yalcin’s open letter is accompanied by another from his lawyer, Huseyin, Ersoz, which seeks to awaken the conscience of the world to abuses in Turkey’s judicial system, and intense pressures from the government aimed at suppressing the work of a free press. 

Letter from Soner Yalcin’s representative

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