Journalist faces investigation over report on execution of a civilian in Mardin

The Turkish army extralegally executed a civilian in Mardin a week ago. Kurdish journalist Ahmet Kanbal who reported on the case faces an investigation.

Another investigation has been opened against Kurdish journalist Ahmet Kanbal. The correspondent of the Mezopotamya Ajansı (MA) news agency is accused of reporting on the extrajudicial execution of a civilian by the Turkish army in the province of Mardin. The civilian is Lokman Görgün, a father of eight children, who was killed together with his nephew, the unarmed HPG fighter Musa Kahraman (Nom de Guerre: Xebatkar Bagok), near the village of Cinata on 8 April.

The Mardin chief public prosecutor’s office accuses Kanbal of spreading false information based on his MA reports and posts on digital networks about the case. On Friday, the journalist was summoned by the police. Kanbal complied with the summons accompanied by legal counsel. During the interrogation, Görgün and Kahraman were described as PKK members. Kanbal explained to the police that Lokman Görgün was a 53-year-old father of eight children who lived in his village by herding cattle. Contrary to what Turkey's Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu claimed, Görgün was clearly a civilian. Ahmet Kanbal said that he himself, as a journalist, reported on the violation of a civilian's right to life.

Ahmet Kanbal has been in the crosshairs of the Turkish judiciary for years. The journalist had to answer for alleged terror propaganda in several trials, including for reports on corruption and clientelism in the usurped municipalities in Kurdish cities or for articles in connection with the Turkish war of aggression against the formerly self-governing canton of Afrin in northern Syria in 2018. A year ago, Kanbal was sentenced to one year and three months in prison for "naming actors in the fight against terror". The trial stemmed from a complaint filed by Musa Çitil, a notorious commander in the gendarmerie (military police). The latter had taken offence at a post by the journalist on Twitter about his past as a rapist in the service of the state. On appeal, the verdict was overturned and Kanbal was acquitted.