The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) has called on Turkey to stop charging members of the press with terrorism and release all jailed journalists.
The Ankara Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office on February 8 indicted 10 Kurdish journalists, nine of whom have been in pretrial detention since late October, on the charge of membership in the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), according to the CPJ.
“Turkish authorities’ recent indictment of 10 journalists on terrorism charges is the latest in a long string of prosecutions of members of the press in retaliation for their reporting,” said CPJ Program Director Carlos Martinez de la Serna, in New York. “The authorities should drop the charges, release all journalists imprisoned for their work, and put an end to equating journalism with terrorism.”
The PKK is listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey and much of the international community.
Pro-Kurdish Mezopotamya News Agency (MA) editor Diren Yurtsever; MA reporters Berivan Altan, Ceylan Şahinli, Deniz Nazlım, Emrullah Acar, Hakan Yalçın, Salman Güzelyüz and Zemo Ağgöz Yiğitsoy; freelance journalist Öznur Değer; pro-Kurdish news website JİNNEWS reporter Ümmü Habibe Eren; and former MA reporting intern Mehmet Günhan are facing up to 15 years in prison, according to the indictment.
Rights groups routinely accuse the Turkish government of trying to keep the press under control by imprisoning journalists, shutting down media outlets, overseeing the purchase of media brands by pro-government conglomerates and using regulatory authorities to exert financial pressure, especially after President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan survived a failed coup in July 2016.
Turkey, which is among the top jailers of journalists in the world, was ranked 149th among 180 countries in the Reporters Without Borders (RSF) 2022 World Press Freedom Index, released in early May.