3 Kurdish journalists referred to court for arrest, 6 released under judicial supervision

Three out of nine Kurdish journalists who were detained earlier this week have been referred to court for arrest after testifying to a prosecutor on Friday, while six of them were released from custody under judicial supervision, Turkish Minute reported, citing the Mezopotamya news agency.

Turkish police conducted a series of coordinated raids in İstanbul, Ankara and southeastern Şanlıurfa province on Tuesday as part of an İstanbul-based operation, resulting in the detention of nine Kurdish journalists. The journalists were held in police custody until Friday, when they were finally able to testify to a prosecutor.

Following their testimony, during which they were asked questions about their journalistic activities and social media posts, Mezopotamya reporters Mehmet Aslan and Esra Solin Dal and journalist Erdoğan Alayumat were referred to court for arrest.

The remaining six journalists — Enes Sezgin, Saliha Aras, Yeşim Alıcı, Beste Argat Balcı, Şirin Ermiş and Doğan Kaynak — who work for various Kurdish news outlets, were released under judicial supervision, meaning they have to regularly check in at a police station and face a travel ban.

There was not any information about the charges faced by the journalists. But it is frequent for Kurdish journalists in Turkey to experience legal harassment on terror-related charges for reporting on sensitive issues such as Kurdish rights.

The international community, including human rights organizations, has repeatedly condemned these actions, which they see as attempts to stifle freedom of expression and suppress dissenting voices.

In addition to the raids in Turkey, there were also police raids on Kurdish media in Belgium on Tuesday, where police raided the offices of Stêrk TV and Medya Haber TV.

Kurdish journalists in Turkey frequently face legal harassment, stand trial and are given jail sentences for covering issues related to Kurds and the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which is listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey and its Western allies.

Rights groups routinely accuse Turkey of undermining media freedom by arresting journalists and shutting down critical media outlets, especially since President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan survived a failed coup in July 2016.

Turkey is one of the world’s biggest jailers of professional journalists and was ranked 165th among 180 countries in terms of press freedom in 2023, according to Reporters Without Borders (RSF).

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