Court rules to keep Kurdish journalist facing terrorism charges in jail

Journalist Dicle Müftüoğlu

A court in the southeastern Turkish province of Diyarbakır has decided to keep a Kurdish journalist who was arrested in May on terrorism-related charges in jail, Turkish Minute reported, citing the Media and Law Studies Association.

Dicle Müftüoğlu, co-chairperson of the Dicle Fırat Journalists’ Association and an editor at the Mezopotamya news agency, was one of the journalists who was sent to jail on May 3, World Press Freedom Day. Along with the other journalists, Müftüoğlu faces charges of terrorist organization membership and running a terrorist organization due to her journalistic activities.

The second hearing in her trial was held at the Diyarbakır 5th High Criminal Court on Thursday. Müftüoğlu attended the hearing from the Ankara Sincan Women’s Prison via the IT Voice and Image System (SEGBİS).

The hearing was attended by representatives from various press organizations and labor unions.

In her defense statement, Müftüoğlu said she has been jailed for almost nine months due to her journalistic activities and that her every action as a journalist, such as meeting with sources, reading certain books and paying freelance journalists, are all considered criminal evidence in the indictment.

“These are not terrorist activities. They’re all are legal and open to public view,” Müftüoğlu said as she asked for her release.

The prosecutor, however, asked for the continuation of the journalist’s incarceration, to which the court agreed.

The trial was adjourned until February 29.

It is common for Kurdish journalists in Turkey to face terrorism charges due to their alleged links to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).

Designated a terrorist organization by Turkey and much of the international community, the PKK has been waging a decades-long war against the state for greater autonomy for the Kurdish minority.

Turkey, which has a poor record in freedom of the press, ranked 165th among 180 countries in the Reporters Without Borders (RSF) 2023 World Press Freedom Index, plunging 16 places from its ranking of 149th in 2022.

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