Court keeps Kurdish journalists in prison

A court decided to keep 16 Kurdish journalists, who were arrested in Amed (Diyarbakır) last June, in prison and to hold the first hearing on July 11.

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.

10 months later, an indictment was prepared against 18 journalists, demanding a prison sentence ranging from 7 years, 6 months to 15 years on charges of "being a member of a terrorist organization", meaning the PKK.

The indictment prepared by the Diyarbakır Chief Public Prosecutor's Office was accepted by the Diyarbakır 4th High Criminal Court. The court will hold the first hearing on July 11.

After its first examination of the file, the court decided to keep jailed journalists in prison.