Biteback Publishing is to release We Are Arrested: A Journalist’s Notes from a Turkish Prison by journalist Can Dündar.
James Stephens, deputy chief executive at Biteback, acquired world English rights to We Are Arrested from Nermin Mollaoglu at Kalem Agency in Istanbul.
Following last week's attempted coup, the international spotlight has fallen on Turkey’s increasingly authoritarian government, led by President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. "Already known for his attacks on press freedom, international observers fear the attempted coup has given Erdoğan an excuse to further suppress all opposition", the publisher said.
In November 2015, Dündar, editor-in-chief of the national Cumhuriyet newspaper, was arrested on charges of espionage, helping a terrorist organisation, trying to topple the government and revealing state secrets. The president called for Dündar to receive two life sentences and he was imprisoned in solitary confinement in Turkey’s Silivri prison for three months whilst awaiting trial. Dündar’s "so-called crime" was informing the public of the discovery of a highly illegal covert arms shipment by the Turkish secret service to radical Islamist organisations fighting government forces in Syria. This was a crime that was in the government’s interest to conceal, and a journalist’s duty to expose.
We Are Arrested (the title is taken from Dündar’s tweet on the day he was detained) is Dündar’s account of the discovery, the weighing up of the pros and cons of publishing, and the events that unfolded after the decision. Dündar and his colleagues faced police barricades, would-be suicide bombers and assassination attempts, as well as fierce attacks from pro-government media.
Incarcerated in Silivri, Dündar decided to write down his experiences. Here, in isolation, he "learned to appreciate the small things in life." Most importantly, he realised that "courage in an age of fear is essential if the public’s right to know is to be defended".
Stephens said: "Under Erdoğan the Turkish press has experienced a systematic crackdown. Censorship is rife and journalists are regularly arrested and imprisoned on charges of terrorism or espionage, simply for doing their job. In the wake of July’s attempted coup, it seems likely the situation will only worsen. That’s why it is more important than ever that brave voices like Can Dündar’s are heard."
In May this year Dündar was sentenced to imprisonment for five years and ten months for "leaking secret information of the state". He has appealed to Turkey’s higher court.
We Are Arrested will be published in September and supported by a major press campaign.