Jake Hess, one of my dearest friends, is still sitting in prison. He has been moved from the anti-terrorism branch in Diyarbakir (according to Wikipedia, one of the ten most notorious prisons in the world! Not sure that counts the anti-terrorism branch but still. Awesome! </sarcasm>) to essentially a holding cell (who knows where) while the deportation process is completed. He will be deported and we have been told by his lawyer that he will be coming home in three days (assuming he comes back to the U.S.). None of us have spoken with him directly.
Myself and a couple friends have been working on various projects – getting a petition together demanding his release and demanding he not be deported, getting press releases out and asking for coverage of the story in various media outlets, all while being somewhat constantly in touch with both Turkish and American embassies. I even contacted Carol Shea-Porter, the New Hampshire Congresswoman whose district covers both Jake and my hometowns, and she got back to me. (Jake, being the badass, principled young man that he is, is refusing help from the U.S. because he does not agree with U.S. foreign policy in Turkey. So I kinda stopped with the Shea-Porter angle.)
Jake’s story has gotten both national and local coverage. He was in nearly ever seacoast New Hampshire newspaper and local news channel and also in the Sunday Globe, Washington Post, CNN, and Democracy Now. I hope that the coverage will help people to understand not only how closed the Turkish government is but also get people to read Jake’s articles and learn about the situation many Kurdish people are in. I highly recommend you read a few of these articles as it is not frequently discussed.
Keep in mind that he still has not been charged with a crime because he didn’t do anything illegal. All he did was expose what the Turkish government is doing. Also keep in mind that 1,498 others are in jail for potentially equally arbitrary reasons, without the protection of being a U.S. citizen. I am sure that Jake is frustrated with this whole process and that all he would want to do is get back to work, writing and learning. Hopefully he will be able to share what he learned here, or wherever he may end up. His time in jail will not go in vain.