“I want prison to exile”


Produced immediately after practically 5 yrs in jail for alleged involvement in a failed coup, Turkish journalist and writer Ahmet Altan, 71, now counts his time centered on the range of textbooks he has left to generate.

Celebrated in the West, specially in Germany and France, the place he received literary awards whilst even now powering bars, Altan finds himself in a hard situation in Turkey, wherever he faces the risk of more prosecution.

But talking to reporters in his Istanbul apartment, Altan said he would alternatively devote his past times in a Turkish jail “wherever I spoke my native language” rather than becoming a absolutely free guy in exile, exactly where “you are rarely any individual ( e) you have no roots “.

“Writers are incredibly nervous simply because every minute is a moment you can produce, you can do your job, so each individual moment you do not create, you sense regret,” he claimed in fluent English.

“I feel it a great deal a lot more now than I did just before,” he confided, seated in a black leather-based chair lined with piles of textbooks.


Altan, who has bought nearly 7 million publications throughout the world, was a person of tens of 1000’s of Turks imprisoned or fired all through the purges pursuing the 2016 coup endeavor versus President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

The relaxed mental was locked up in Silivri, a prison complicated in Istanbul with the largest courtroom in Turkey, the most important web site of mass trials that have seen more than 2,500 suspects incarcerated for daily life.

Altan was partly picked for his function with Taraf, a newspaper he founded. The govt has shut the doc on allegations of obtaining economical guidance from a US-based mostly Muslim cleric whom Erdogan blames for the coup plot.

Produced a lot less than midway by way of his 10.5-yr sentence final April by purchase of the European Court of Human Legal rights, which found “no proof” of wrongdoing, Altan has returned to his family soon after crafting two extra textbooks. in jail and virtually finished a third.

The initially, a memoir about jail titled “I’ll Never See the Entire world Again”, was translated into 28 languages ​​but was hardly ever printed in Turkey.

He describes the second, a novel identified as “Lady Lifetime”, as a hymn to freedom and her personal “revenge”. It became a greatest-seller in Turkey immediately after its release, successful the French Prix Femina for overseas publications in 2021.

“It is really like stating, ‘You couldn’t steal individuals 5 several years from me,'” claimed the novel’s silver-bearded author, involving a drag of a cigarette.

He remembered composing “8 or 9 hours a day” when his two cellmates tormented him from limitless cigarette smoke.

“Exile would be a lot more complicated”

One particular working day in jail he stumbled upon FlashTV, a “low-end” channel that featured voluptuous females singing and dancing in skimpy clothing.

“They ended up the only women I could see though in prison … I seriously loved seeing it, but my cellmates ended up really spiritual,” laughed Altan, who describes himself as a religious atheist.

“Lady Existence,” the tale of a literature university student who falls in really like with two sexy women, “has entered this environment,” she said.

“I lived in yet another entire world,” he mentioned. “If you can create, there is absolutely nothing to complain about.”

Altan’s incarceration sparked global outrage, turning him into a image of oppression in Turkey subsequent the coup attempt.

Thirty-eight Nobel laureates, together with JM Coetzee and Kazuo Ishiguro, posted a letter in the British newspaper Guardian in 2018 inquiring Erdogan to secure the writer’s release.

Aware of his higher profile and the new court docket proceedings he faces, Altan avoids answering overtly political thoughts now.

But as he vows to publish his future textbooks abroad right before attempting his luck at house, Altan would seem identified to continue to be in Turkey no matter what.

“It truly is not for bravery. But staying in exile is anything that I feel is much more complicated than remaining a prisoner,” he said.

In exile, “you may perhaps be safe and sound … but you are unable to come to feel (slumber) in your own bed, in your personal household. I might fairly be in prison.” (AFP)

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