Turkey’s prominent Armenian intellectual, writer and columnist Sevan Nisanyan, 60, has been sitting in a jail since January of 2014. He could spend next 25 years in same jail cells if nothing is being done. His crime is construction violations. I do not have related statistics but most likely and according to various reports, he may be the only one person sitting in a jail for construction violations in Turkey. And this tells you a lot.
He is an openly atheist intellectual who sometimes uses very sharp tongue while speaking of some of very difficult issues in Turkey, including matters related to Islam and Islam's prophet, Islam's history in a country which has been arguably more conservative and religious in recent years.
There is a recent piece on him at Armenian Weekly, linked here.
When I reached out to the US State Department, I was unsure if I can get any comment on his prison sentence. I do not know Nisanyan personally and I never met him. However I admire his courage and body of work. Appears also not many people care about his being in a jail for 2 years.
Here is a State Departmen official comments on his punishment via email:
‘’We have seen these reports. As we’ve said repeatedly before, the United States continues to defend free speech, including media freedom, due process, and judicial independence. These are key elements of every healthy democracy, and they are enshrined in the Turkish Constitution.’’
Update: There is also a petition launched for Sevanyan and those who want to support him can sign the petition here: