Writer-journalist Nadire Mater plays a prominent part in freedom of opinion and speech in Turkey. Mater serves as the Chair of the Board of the Interpress Service (IPS) Communication Foundation, which supports rights-based journalism practices. She is also the project advisor of the Independent Communication Network (BIA) and continues to work for the online media platform bianet.org.
Mater is among 38 people who have stood trial for supporting the Editors-in-Chief on Watch Campaign for the now shut down newspaper Özgür Gündem Daily. She was sentenced to a deferred prison sentence and a fine.
Mater took part in the campaign to show solidarity to Özgür Gündem and to fight for freedom of opinion and expression. She supported this campaign because Özgür Gündem had been subject to several investigations, lawsuits, and censorships until it was shut down by an executive decree in October 2016.
She was accused of “publishing and disseminating publications of a terrorist organization” and “propagandizing for a terrorist organization.” The accusations refer to the news and articles that were published by Özgür Gündem on 3 June 2016—when she served as the Guest Editor-in-Chief on Watch for one day. The first hearing of the case was held at a court on 7 November 2016. In the next hearing on 14 February 2017, the prosecutor sought a prison sentence for Mater up to 10.5 years. At the last hearing on 7 March 2017, she was sentenced to 15 months in prison on “propaganda” charges. The sentence was deferred. She was sentenced to pay a fine of 6,000 TL, which is an equivalent of spending 10 months in prison for “publishing and spreading statements of terrorist organizations.”
Mater’s award-winning book Mehmedin Kitabı: Soldiers Who Have Fought in the Southeast Speak Out was published in 1999 and translated into five languages. It has become one of the symbols of freedom of opinion and expression. When it was published, Mater was indicted and the book was banned upon the request of the General Staff of the Turkish Republic. She was acquitted in 2001. Yet today, Mater has been sentenced to prison for defending press freedom and freedom of expression.