DFG and MKGP demand the release of 15 colleagues in pre-trial detention for a year

Jailed journalists from the free press face a sentence of seven years and six months each for alleged links to the PKK.

The Dicle Fırat Journalists Association (DFG) co-chair Serdar Altan, the editor of the Mezopotamya News Agency (MA), Aziz Oruç, the two editors of the Kurdish-language newspaper Xwebûn, Mehmet Ali Ertaş and Zeynel Abidin Bulut, the moderator 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, an accountant at Piya Production, were arrested on 16. June 2022 as alleged members of a terrorist organisation. The trial against them will begin on 11 July.

DFG and the Mesopotamia Women Journalists Platform (MKGP) made a statement in front of the Diyarbakır Courthouse demanding the release of 15 colleagues who have been in pre-trial detention for a year.

The action in Amed was also attended by politicians from the Green Left Party, Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) and Democratic Regions Party (DBP), as well as numerous journalists. Behind a banner with photos of the jailed journalists and the words "The free press will not be silenced", a statement was read out in Kurdish and Turkish.

"The government and the judiciary have maintained their hostile attitude towards the Kurdish media since the beginning of 2022. 15 of our colleagues have been unlawfully held in pre-trial detention for a year without any evidence of a crime and subjected to rights violations," said DFG member Selman Çiçek.

The statement also addressed the arrest of seven journalists in the run-up to the elections in Turkey, including JinNews correspondent Beritan Canözer, DFG co-chair Dicle Müftüoğlu and MA editor Sedat Yılmaz. "Our colleagues continue to write the truth despite the prevailing repression, they give a voice to women, children, nature and the whole society," said Çiçek, calling for the trial to be held on 11 July in Amed to be observed.

JinNews director Safiye Alağaş, who was arrested in the same trial, was released from prison yesterday on condition of judicial control.

The journalists are accused, among other things, of "PKK propaganda" and producing TV programmes in favour of Abdullah Öcalan, of manipulating the public through "agitative reports" by creating the impression that "operations of Turkish armed forces against the [PKK] are directed against the Kurdish people", as well as passing on instructions from the PKK leadership and “informing terrorists about operations and activities of the air force" through news reports and TV programmes. The prosecution is demanding a sentence of seven years and six months for all 15 media workers.