CoE calls on Turkey to release 3 journalists, cancel judicial control measures imposed on other media workers

Council of Europe, Strasbourg

The Council of Europe (CoE) has called on the Turkish government to release several journalists arrested last week and to cancel the judicial control measures imposed on other media workers.

The CoE’s Safety of Journalists Platform requested a formal response from the Turkish government by July 30.

The call comes after the arrest in April of three journalists who were accused of “membership in a terrorist organization.”

Turkish police conducted a series of coordinated raids in İstanbul, Ankara and southeastern Şanlıurfa province on April 23, resulting in the detention of nine Kurdish journalists. The journalists were held in police custody until Friday, April 26, 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 Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) also issued a statement condemning the arrests, advocating for the immediate release of Dal, Aslan and Alayumat and calling for an end to the systematic harassment of Kurdish journalists.

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 also are subject to a travel ban.

“Turkish authorities continue to harass members of the media with mass raids and consistently fail to provide credible evidence to back up their accusations of terrorism against them. The only secret that the courts are hiding with their orders of secrecy surrounding their investigations is their lack of proof of any wrongdoing. Once more, Kurdish journalists are being forced to spend days in jail being questioned about their professional activities,” said Özgür Öğret, CPJ’s Turkey representative. “Turkish authorities should immediately release Esra Solin Dal, Mehmet Aslan, and Erdoğan Alayumat, overturn the judicial control measures issued against other journalists and media workers who were swept up in the raid, and stop this harassment, which only tarnishes Turkey’s global reputation in terms of press freedom.”

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 158th among 180 countries in terms of press freedom in 2024, according to Reporters Without Borders (RSF).

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