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Turkish Journalist, Imprisoned For 11 Months, Is In Critical Condition


Two Brussels-based media organizations have called on Turkish authorities to provide urgent medical care for Tuncer Cetinkaya, former regional representative of now defunct Zaman daily who has been imprisoned for 11 months.

Mr. Cetinkaya’s health condition has steadily worsened, with prison officials persistenly ignoring demands of his family for providing medical care in prison complex in the southern province of Antalya.

Frustrated by Turkish officials’ consistent indifference to the case of the journalist, his family contacted with International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) and European Federation of Journalists (EFJ) over his health situation.

Mr. Cetinkaya suffers from “autosomal dominant polycystic kidney disease (ADPKD), a hereditary problem that has no permanent cure and needs specific medical treatment on regular basis.

R. G. Cetinkaya, daughter of the veteran journalist, told media that her father did not have any access to his drugs and was denied a medical check by a doctor within first 3 months of his imprisonment.

His health situation steadily deteriorated and he has lost %54 of his kidney. During this period, Mr. Cetinkaya also lost a lot of weight.

Mr. Cetinkaya’s lawyer repeatedly kept writing petitions and applications to medical authorities to warn about the deterioration of the journalist’ health. He urged officials to allow a committee of doctors to medically examine his health, noting that his worsening health state does not sit well with unhygienic, overcrowded and inadequate prison conditions. Over the past 6 months, he was allowed to a see doctor only once, a situation that violates both national and international law that specify prisoners’ rights.

The two media organizations expressed extreme concerns over Mr. Cetinkaya’s health and urged the Turkish authorities in Antalya, where the journalist is held, to provide necessary medical care he needs in prison.

The call also includes a plea for allowing a committee of doctors to assess Mr. Cetinkaya’s health condition after a thorough medical examination.

The former Zaman journalist was remanded in a massive crackdown on media after a failed coup last summer. There are 169 journalists in jail, according to the Istanbul-based P24 independent media platform, which monitors the press freedom issues in Turkey. The number makes Turkey is the leading country in the world in terms of jailed journalists.

Last month, main Republican People’s Party (CHP) presented a report in Turkish Parliament, detailing the statistics containing extremely ill prisoners and the lack of proper medical care.

Turkish law proposes release of ill prisoners after an extensive medical examination and review by a committee of doctors. But authorities have so far released only a few cancer patients from prison, disregarded calls from independent medical organizations and opposition parties regarding prisoners with poor health.

There are currently 841 prisoners who need urgent medical treatment, a report by Justice Ministry revealed.


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