"Ahmet did not expect at all to be arrested in the scope of the Ergenekon trial. Be aware that you might be taken in as well just because you have attended this conference regarding Ergenekon's having a foot in the door of the university. The situation is that severe. If your attitude is not being liked, anything can happen", bianet Co-ordinator Ertuğrul Kürkçü warned the journalists, communication students and academics at the panel discussion "Friends of Ahmet Şık Talk about Ahmet".
Journalist Ahmet Şık was arrested on 6 March together with his colleague Nedim Şener under allegations of membership of the Ergenekon terrorist organization, a clandestine network charged with the attempt to topple the government.
"The Bilgi University needs Ahmet, bianet needs him and so does the world; that is why he has to be released. Let us continue patiently and obstinately; little strokes fell big oaks. It was always like that until now and it will be. Let's tell the world tirelessly and sedulously that Ahmet is a good person and a working journalist."
The solidarity meeting was held at the Central Campus of the Istanbul Bilgi University. Attendants Assoc. Prof. Esra Arsan from the Bilgi University Faculty of Communication, journalists Ertuğrul Mavioğlu and İsmail Saymaz from the Radikal daily, Mustafa Kuleli and Meltem Ürüt from Hayat TV and Şık's lawyer Fikret İlkiz delivered an inside into how they know Ahmet Şık as a journalist and a private person and discussed the current situation of freedom of expression.
The participants announced to carry on their initiative "Freedom for Ahmet Şık and Nedim Şener" until both journalists were going to be released, saying, "Ahmet will get out and he will write again".
Mavioğlu: Words are not enough anymore
Journalist Mavioğlu assessed the arrest of his colleague Şık as "the point where the speech ends".
"It seems to be a humiliation to me to say that Ahmet had no connections to the 'deep state' and that he was not related to Ergenekon. Yet, we will tell it again. There is one positive thing about Ahmet's arrest: the sales of the book we wrote together exploded".
Saymaz: Supporting the oppressed
Journalist Saymaz pointed out that it becomes clear what kind of journalist Şık actually is considering that he is being supported by the Saturday Mothers, the Diyarbakır Bar Association and many other groups.
"Because Ahmet supported the oppressed with each and every news he made".
Saymaz indicated that also Şener is a journalist who always kept his distance to the source of the news and protected his sources.
Two students of Şık
Ürüt worked together with Şık as a student of the Department of Communications when he was reporting for the website HaberVesaire ('News etcetera'). "He was both my teacher and like my elder brother to me", Ürüt recalled.
"Şık chased the news on the street, not at his desk. He has his place opposite of the ones who create darkness".
Kuleli described his feelings as follows: "Apart from [Şık's] arrest, the reports about him that came up in the media afterwards made me very angry".
İlkiz: Interrogation of thoughts, not of actions
Lawyer Fikret Ilkiz announced that the trials of both journalists were going to involve lengthy procedures.
"Both journalists were interrogated on their lives, they were interrogated on your lives. They are not inquired about an action but they are being asked 'who are you and what are you thinking'. Şık was asked about Ergenekon. You are his lawyer. Hence, you are also part of Ergenekon. That is how the system works", Iliz stated.
Also journalists Hacı Boğatekin from the local Adıyam Gerger Fırat newspaper, İrfan Aktan from the Express magazine and Nadire Mater, Project Advisor at bianet, spoke on the journalism done by Şık and Şener. They expressed their disapproval of the arrests and highlighted the importance of the public's right to be informed and the struggle for freedom of expression. (EG/BA/VK)