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turkley prison for media

February 20, 2013

Former Noble Peace Prize nominee Ragip Zarakolu says he’s been charged with crimes against the state more than 70 times in his life. But those experiences didn’t prepare the Turkish publisher and journalist for his latest stint behind bars. Zarakolu spent six months last year in a Turkish high-security prison on terrorism-related charges before being released pending trial in April. If convicted, he could spend up to 15 years in jail. “There was no [physical] torture but without [a real] reason to be arrested, it was torture to be treated like a terrorist. Everyone is looking at you like you’re a monster,” Zarakolu told Al Jazeera from a café near his home in Istanbul. Zarakolu was among hundreds of others across Turkey – including lawyers, politicians, students, activists and other journalists – accused of belonging to, or aiding, an illegal organisation: the Union of Communities in Kurdistan (KCK), which the Turkish government views as the urban branch of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK). “This was the first time I went to a civilian prison and an anti-terror prison. It was a shock for me. It’s unjust and there is no reason. My arrest was state terror,” the 65-year-old said. Zarakolu founded the Belge publishing house in 1977. Since then, he has published books by Kurdish and Armenian authors on issues that remain largely taboo in Turkey, including the Armenian genocide and the country’s treatment of its Kurdish citizens. He has also authored countless articles on these topics.(

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