Nedim Şener, International Press Institute's (IPI) World Press Freedom Hero, is finally released, after spending 375 days behind prison bars just because of his work as a journalist. Of course, I'm extremely happy that I will see Şener as a free man at a dinner tonight, but I am also anxious.
Şener is released, pending trial, alongside another prominent journalist (and scholar) Ahmet Şık, as well as two more colleagues. These two well-known names were the main reason of the increasing pressure on the Turkish government by the international community. Just before their release, the European Parliament had announced that it formed a 5-members ad hoc commission to follow the case. Will this political case to intimidate the critical voices in the media be forgotten by the world now?
I don't know about the world, but it seems that Prime Minister Tayyip Erdoğan has already forgotten it.
He's just finished his long, fiery speech in the parliament. No mention of Nedim Şener and Ahmet Şık. And no mention of the scandalous end of the criminal case in Sivas, where 37 leftist intellectuals were burned to death by radical Islamists in 1993. The perpetrators are all free now, as the case is dropped today, due to statute of limitations.
Instead, Erdoğan accused Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, the leader of main opposition CHP, because of the Dersim massacre in the late 1930s. Kılıçdaroğlu was not born then.
To summarize, the first hours after the release of Şener don't seem very encouraging for Turkey's future. Those who really care about Turkish democracy should keep their eyes open.