6 journalists kept in police custody for 4 days face arrest

A Turkish prosecutor is seeking the arrest of six journalists who were detained earlier this week in the western province of İzmir on terror-related charges, Turkish Minute reported, citing the Bianet news website.

Special operations police on Tuesday morning detained the six journalists, most of whom work for pro-Kurdish media outlets, in simultaneous raids in İzmir.

After they were kept in police custody for four days, Gazete Duvar reporter Cihan Başakçıoğlu, Mezopotamya news agency (MA) reporters Semra Turan, Delal Akyüz and Tolga Güney, JINNEWS reporter Melike Aydın and pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Equality and Democracy Party (DEM Party) press worker Fatma Funda Akbulut were referred to court for arrest on Friday morning.

According to Bianet, the prosecutor referred the journalists for arrest without interrogating them.

They are charged with membership in the terrorist Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) due to their reports and meetings with news sources as well as the statements of witness Buse Aslan, Bianet said. Aslan claimed the journalists write their reports based on orders from the PKK.

Kurdish journalists in Turkey frequently face legal harassment, stand trial and are sentenced to prison for covering issues related to Kurds and the PKK, which has been waging a bloody campaign in Turkey’s southeast since 1984 and is listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey and much of the international community.

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 ranked 165th in the Reporters Without Borders (RSF) 2023 World Press Freedom Index, among 180 countries, not far from North Korea, which occupies the bottom of the list.

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