Case Studies

Vicdan Özerdem: Imprisoned because of INTERPOL

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“My name is Vicdan Özerdem, and I was imprisoned due to a Red Notice from INTERPOL in 2012 and I think this was the biggest injustice not only for myself, but for all of my family, in all of our lives.”

Vicdan is a journalist who was subject to persecution and torture in Turkey on account of her work and her political activism. As a result, in 2004, she fled to Germany, where she was recognised as a refugee in 2006. Vicdan initially became aware of the Red Notice against her when she was arrested crossing the border between Croatia and Bosnia-Herzegovina in 2012. A day after she was arrested, the Croatian court informed her of the Red Notice and allowed her to view a copy of it. The Red Notice informed Vicdan that she had been convicted in absentia of armed struggle and membership of a terrorist organisation and sentenced to 30 years in prison.

Vicdan said: “Of course I had heard about INTERPOL, and I had heard about the Red Notice, but what I thought was that serial murderers or the very famous persons or real criminals would get these Red Notices, and I had never thought that I would be the case for a Red Notice.

How should I describe it? It was like falling into an abyss, into a very very deep hole, it was like a break with life, a breakdown of anything about my life.”

After being detained in Croatia for six months, during which time Vicdan’s health deteriorated considerably, she was released by the Croatian authorities and allowed to return to Germany as the Croatian Government believed that the allegations against her were no longer relevant. Fair Trials helped to get Vicdan’s Red Notice deleted in 2017 when the Refugee Policy was applied in her case.

“It’s certainly a very special and wonderful event that I experienced when it was deleted, but I still have no power, no strength,” Vicdan said.