Thirty-four journalists have been arrested for their work in the last 11 months as part of separate investigations across Turkey, according to the pro-Kurdish Mezopotamya News Agency (MA).
Sedat Yılmaz, an editor at MA, and Dicle Müftüoğlu, co-chair of the local media advocacy group Dicle Fırat Journalists Association (DFG) in the southeastern city of Diyarbakır, were arrested on Tuesday in connection with an investigation launched by the Ankara Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office.
As part of a Diyarbakır-based operation that was conducted in 21 provinces in April, five journalists — Beritan Canözer, Mehmetşah Oruç, Abdurrahman Gök, Mikail Barut, Mikail Barut and Remzi Akkaya — were arrested by a local court. They are accused of membership in a terrorist organization, the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK). All the journalists have faced similar charges in the past and spent some time in jail.
In February the Ankara Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office indicted 10 Kurdish journalists, nine of whom have been in pretrial detention since late October, on the charge of membership in the outlawed PKK.
MA editor Diren Yurtsever; MA reporters Berivan Altan, Ceylan Şahinli, Deniz Nazlım, Emrullah Acar, Hakan Yalçın and Salman Güzelyüz; freelance journalist Öznur Değer; and pro-Kurdish news website JİNNEWS reporters Ümmü Habibe Eren and Derya Ren are facing up to 15 years in prison, according to the indictment.
Hamdullah Bayram, who works in distribution for the Yeni Yaşam newspaper, was detained on March 16 in the southern city of Mersin as part of the same investigation. Bayram was arrested five days later by a local court in Ankara.
In April the Diyarbakır 4th High Criminal Court accepted an indictment of 21 people, the vast majority of whom are Kurdish journalists who have been in pre-trial detention since June 2022.
Sixteen of the 21 detainees, including Serdar Altan, co-chair of the DFG; MA Editor-in-Chief Aziz Oruç; and JinNews News Director Safiye Alagaş were arrested by a court on June 16, after they had been held in custody for eight days, in a move that sparked outrage among opposition politicians, members of the press and rights activists.
The Kurdish journalists, who had been detained as part of an operation overseen by the Diyarbakır Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office, were arrested on charges of membership in the PKK.