Court accepts indictment against jailed journalists in Amed

The Diyarbakır 4th High Criminal Court accepted the indictment against journalists imprisoned in Amed. A total of 22 people are accused of being members of the PKK.

On 8 June, six media outlets, including two news agencies, Mezopotamya Agency (MA) and JinNews, and Kurdish-language newspaper Xwebûn, were searched in Amed as part of an "investigation" conducted by the Diyarbakir Chief Public Prosecutor's Office against twenty journalists and two other persons. The production companies Piya, Ari and Pel were also targeted in the operation. The media materials in these facilities were confiscated by the police, and the confiscated cameras were presented to the anti-terror police department as evidence of membership in a terrorist organisation. After 8 days in custody, 16 journalists out of 22 people detained in the operation were sent to prison on 15 June for alleged membership of a terrorist organisation. The alleged "terrorist organisation" to which the media workers are claimed to belong is the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK).

The jailed journalists are the director of the women's news agency JinNews, Safiye Alagaş, the co-chair of DFG (Dicle Fırat Journalists' Association), Serdar Altan, the editor of the Mezopotamya News Agency (MA), Aziz Oruç, two editors of the Kurdish-language newspaper Xwebûn, Mehmet Ali Ertaş and Zeynel Abidin Bulut, presenter and former MA editor Ömer Çelik, presenters Neşe Toprak and Elif Üngür, cameramen Mazlum Doğan Güler, Ibrahim Koyuncu, Abdurrahman Öncü, Suat Doğuhan, Ramazan Geciken, Lezgin Akdeniz and Mehmet Şahin, and Remziye Temel, accountant of Piya Production.

JinNews editor Gülşen Koçuk, Esmer Tunç, Mehmet Yalçın, Kadir Bayram, Feynaz Koçuk and Ihsan Ergülen were released under reporting conditions.

After 9 months and 10 days, Diyarbakır Chief Public Prosecutor's Office completed its investigation against the journalists and prepared the indictment in late March.

The 728-page indictment was accepted by Diyarbakır 4th High Criminal Court on Wednesday.

The indictment lists the broadcasting policies of the Kurdish TV channels abroad and defines the journalists’ reports and news articles broadcast on these channels as “organizational links”.  The indictment seeks up to 15 years in prison each for the journalists who are held in two high-security prisons in Amed.

The files concerning Safiye Alağaş and Gülşen Koçuk were separated, while Feynaz Koçuk and İhsan Ergülen were not included in the indictment.

Aurélia Dondo, Head of Europe and Central Asia Region of Pen International, shared a message on Twitter, calling for the release of the jailed journalists.

Dondo said: “We express our solidarity with the 16 imprisoned journalists in Diyarbakır, who will stand trial on 11 July - more than a year after they were first arrested. They must be released immediately.”