(RSF/IFEX) - On 6 June 2002, RSF applauded the temporary release from prison of journalist Asiye Zeybek Güzel after more than five years of detention without trial. However, the organisation condemned the recent jailing of journalist Ahmet Aksoy for "separatist writings" and the continued imprisonment of another journalist, Fikret Baskaya, on the same charge.
"Zeybek Güzel was raped and tortured in prison by police with complete impunity. We support her complaint before the European Court of Human Rights," said RSF Secretary-General Robert Ménard in a letter to Justice Minister Hikmet Sami Turk. Ménard also called for the immediate release of the two other journalists.
Zeybek Güzel, of the weekly newspaper "Atilim", was released on 6 June by Judge Seref Akçay of Istanbul's State Security Court No. 2 because of the excessive length of legal proceedings against her. However, she will have to appear before the court on 7 August, when she faces between three and 12 and a half years' imprisonment for belonging to the Marxist-Leninist Communist Party (MLKP).
The journalist was arrested on 22 February 1997 and taken to the Anti-Terrorist Section of State Security headquarters in Istanbul, where she was tortured and raped during 13 days of interrogation, before being sent to the prison in Gebze, where she has since been held. Rape charges against several police officers were dismissed. Her lawyer, Ercan Kanar, has appealed to the European Court of Human Rights in connection with the rape and the excessive length of the legal procedure against her. On 27 March, Kanar called for her release and criticised the irregularities in her prosecution.
Baskaya, an academic and columnist with the pro-Kurdish daily "Özgür Bakis", has been imprisoned since 29 June 2001 at Ankara's Kalecik jail. On 26 January, the Supreme Court confirmed his 16-month jail sentence for "separatist propaganda", which was handed down by the State Security Court. On 10 May, Istanbul's State Security Court No. 2 rejected his request for release and the suspension of his sentence, despite the recent revision of Article 8 of the Anti-Terrorist Law, under which he was charged. The next hearing in his case is set for 7 June.
Journalist Aksoy, owner of the local newspaper "Olusum", in the south-eastern town of Gaziantep, was jailed on 29 May in the town's Nizip Prison, by order of the state prosecutor, for alleged "separatist writings" and "offending the reputation of the state". He described the state as "fascist" in an article entitled "Deniz, Hüseyin, Yusuf", which paid tribute to three prominent figures of the "1968 generation".
Four other journalists, Kemal Evcimen, Hasan Özgün, Nureddin Sirin and Mustafa Benli, remain imprisoned for their role in disseminating news and publications that are considered to be a threat to "public order" or "state unity", although, by democratic standards, the material is entirely within the bounds of freedom and diversity of information.