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).