In the face of growing efforts by the Turkish government to silence critical voices in Turkey, PEN International has vowed to continue to stand with Turkish journalists and intellectuals, according to PEN President Jennifer Clement.

The Haberdar news portal reported on Friday that Clement said that in the wake of an attempted coup on July 15, the Turkish government’s crackdown on human rights and freedom of expression has been swift and relentless.

“We must continue to stand with our colleagues and friends in Turkey. Our struggle against those who want to silence critical voices will continue,” Clement said.

The PEN president also stated that although renowned writer and linguist Necmiye Alpay and Aslı Erdoğan have recently been released by a Turkish court, there are still journalists behind bars, including Ahmet Şık, Murat Sabuncu, Turhan Günay, Kadri Gürsel and Ahmet Altan.

Alpay was arrested on terror charges as a part of an ongoing investigation into the closed Özgür Gündem daily, the newspaper in which she serves as a member of the advisory board. In a similar vein, Erdoğan, who is also a PEN member, was arrested on similar charges and reportedly denied essential medical care and even water in prison. Erdoğan and Alpay were released on Dec 29, 2016.

Erdoğan spent 132 days under arrest pending trial, while Alpay was incarcerated for 121 days. Based on the court decision, they are banned from travelling abroad.

PEN International is a global association of poets, essayists and novelists with a basic focus on civil liberties and freedom of expression

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