Gabriele Del Grande in 2010, when he received the Human Rights Price of Stiftung PRO ASYL. Photo: Gustavo Alabiso

Del Gran­de was arrested in Turkey’s sou­thern bor­der with Syria and soon after he was trans­fer to a detenti­on faci­li­ty at the city of Mug­la. He had tra­v­eled to the regi­on in order to pur­sue his inves­ti­ga­ti­on on the origins of the Isla­mic Sta­te. Initi­al infor­ma­ti­on sug­gested he was appre­hen­ded due to his papers not being in order. European and Ita­li­an aut­ho­ri­ties have initi­al­ly cho­sen a quiet approach not reve­aling that Tur­kish aut­ho­ri­ties were uncoope­ra­ti­ve, even by restric­ting access of Italy’s diplo­ma­tic envoy to the detai­nee. Their choice to hand­le Del Grande’s detenti­on quiet­ly and away from public atten­ti­on has not pro­du­ced posi­ti­ve results.

Nine days after his arrest and after con­ti­nues pro­test Del Gran­de was per­mit­ted a pho­ne call to Ita­ly. He then revea­led that he was being detai­ned incom­mu­ni­ca­do until that very moment and not per­mit­ted to use his tele­pho­ne alt­hough no char­ges were pres­sed against him. He was also denied access to a lawy­er. He insists that his papers were in order and the rea­son for the arrest is lin­ked to the con­tent of his work, for which he has been ques­tio­ned mul­ti­ple times during his detenti­on. Sin­ce Tues­day Del Gran­de has gone on hun­ger strike deman­ding his rights be respec­ted.

Gabrie­le Del Grande’s case is of major impor­t­an­ce not only due to his per­so­nal record of high qua­li­ty inde­pen­dent jour­na­lism and uncom­pro­mi­sing human right activism. But also becau­se he as a per­son has deman­ded his rights against an aut­ho­ri­ta­ri­an sta­te, con­tra­ry to the wider examp­le of EU’s sub­mis­si­ve and cyni­cal approach that tole­ra­tes mas­si­ve vio­la­ti­on of free­dom of expres­si­on and civil rights in Tur­key in exchan­ge for pet­ty poli­ti­cal gains.

Del Gran­de deser­ves our respect and soli­da­ri­ty for his strugg­le to win back his free­dom. We  call for the imme­dia­te release of Gabrie­le Del Gran­de and all jour­na­lists unjust­ly detai­ned in Tur­key.

Refu­gee Sup­port Aege­an (RSA) is a non-pro­fit orga­ni­sa­ti­on in sup­port of refu­gees. The RSA team in Athens, on Les­bos and Chi­os moni­tors human rights vio­la­ti­ons and offers legal aid and soci­al sup­port for asyl­um see­kers and refu­gees. RSA is the imple­men­ting part­ner of the Foun­da­ti­on PRO ASYL pro­ject RSPA (Refu­gee Sup­port Pro­gram Aege­an).