CPJ calls on Turkish authorities to stop harassing the Kurdish media with baseless charges

Turkish authorities should immediately release the Kurdish journalists in police custody and stop harassing them with secret investigations, the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) said after the detention of 11 journalists on Tuesday.

Early Tuesday morning, Turkish police simultaneously raided several homes and one newsroom in the cities of Ankara, Diyarbakır, Istanbul, Mardin, Urfa, and Van, as part of an investigation of the Ankara chief prosecutor’s office. The raids resulted in at least 11 journalists in police custody.

Diren Yurtsever, news editor for the pro-Kurdish Mezopotamya Agency (MA); MA reporters Emrullah Acar, Zemo Ağgöz, Berivan Altan, Selman Güzelyüz, Deniz Nazlım, Ceylan Şahinli, and Hakan Yalçın; and pro-Kurdish website Jin News reporters Öznur Değer and Habibe Erenare among the journalists in custody, according to those same reports, which said the detainees will be transported from other cities to Ankara. The police confiscated several cameras, computers, and other equipment while detaining the journalists. The 11th journalist in police custody was Mehmet Günhan, a former reporting intern at the MA’s Ankara newsroom, who was apprehended in the western city of Manisa.

“Turkish authorities once again deprived several journalists of their freedoms under a court-ordered secret investigation. These journalists behind bars are unaware of what they are accused of, just like the journalists who were arrested in Diyarbakır in June who remain detained and uninformed,” said Gulnoza Said, CPJ’s Europe and Central Asia program coordinator, in New York. “Turkish authorities must immediately release the journalists in custody, return their confiscated property, and stop harassing the Kurdish media in Turkey with baseless charges that typically end up being related to their journalism.”

Police raided the MA newsroom in Ankara, entering the office with a lock pick during the early morning hours with nobody from the outlet initially present, and searched the office for six hours, MA reported. Police confiscated five computers, two hard drives, physical archives of print newspapers, notebooks with journalism notes, and several books.

In an unrelated case, Derya Ren, another reporter from Jin News, was taken from a house in Diyarbakır by the police and sent to prison on Tuesday.

In June, a court in Diyarbakır ordered 15 journalists and a media worker from pro-Kurdish outlets to be held in pretrial custody as part of another secret investigation. These journalists remain jailed without being charged.