How You Can Help Free An Outstanding Young American Journalist Imprisoned For Reporting on Human Rights Abuses

The excellent young American journalist Jake Hess -- who is a good friend of mine -- has just been imprisoned in Turkey in extremely worrying circumstances. Hess has been factually reporting from Southern Turkey for over a year now on the way the Kurdish civilian population is being treated. Here's a sample of his excellent reporting:

"Compared to most internally displaced Kurds in northern Iraq, Shamal Qadir is almost lucky. Since the Turkish army devastated his village, Kuzine, in a bombing raid Jul. 1, he's been living in a schoolhouse, where room temperatures are comfortable and basic amenities are accessible.

"Our family bought land and started building houses in Kuzine in 1996. We did it for our children, so they'd have a place to live in the future," Qadir tells IPS. "Now, our dreams have been destroyed."

Qadir is one of roughly 6,500 people who have been driven from their homes by Turkish and Iranian bombings of Kurdish border villages in northern Iraq since May 24."

For rigorously and compassionately reporting on a horrifying situation, Hess has been jailed. AOL has the full story here.

The Committee to Protect Journalists and Journalists Without Borders have both issued statements calling for his immediate release. He is a legitimate journalist of extremely high integrity. The idea that he would have any alliance with, or sympathy for, a terror group is utterly absurd. Yet he is currently being held at the Diyarbakir Anti-Terrorism Branch.

Please take just a minute to call the Turkish Embassy in Washington DC on +1 202 612 67 00 +or email them at and politely explain that you expect this outstanding US citizen to be treated with decency, and released at once. A country that calls itself a democracy should not be imprisoning journalists for telling the truth.

This would be a good form letter, please vary it a little:

"Dear Sir or Madam,

I write out of great concern for the well-being of Mr Jake Hess, who is an American citizen.

I understand that Mr Hess has been detained in Turkey at the Diyarbakir Anti-Terrorism Branch, apparently on the strength of the inclusion of his name in a document relating to Kurdish organisations. He is in fact an independent and respected journalist.

I would appreciate your urgent confirmation of the following:-

1. Is Mr Hess charged with any crime, and if so, what is the charge? 2. What are the grounds for Mr Hess' detention if he has not been charged with a crime? 3. If there is no charge, will Mr Hess be released, and if so, when? 4. Where is Mr Hess detained and what are the conditions there - specifically, is he in his own cell or is he incarcerated with other prisoners? 5. What has happened to Mr Hess' belongings? What provision has been made for the security of his premises while he is not there? 6. What provision has been made for Mr Hess to contact his relatives - specifically does he have e-mail / phone access? 7. What food and drink will Mr Hess be provided with during his detention? 8. If he is not charged, will Mr Hess receive compensation for his detention? 9. What physical force was used to detain Mr Hess? 10. Can you guarantee that Mr Hess' human rights will be respected at all times?

Again, I would appreciate an urgent response and that you use all efforts to ensure that Mr Hess is appropriately treated. I expect that he will be released without charge without delay.

Thank you and best wishes"