Pro-Kurdish DİHA journalist Oruç released today, detained by Turkish police again

Şerife Oruç, a journalist for the now-closed pro-Kurdish Dicle news agency (DİHA), was detained on Monday again after the Batman 2nd High Criminal Court ruled to release her on probation during the fourth hearing of her trial in which she stands accused of membership in a “terrorist group.”

According to the online news outlet Gazete Karınca, she was detained over a separate case. Oruç was working for DİHA, closed down by the Turkish government in October 2016, when she was detained on July 5, 2016 along with journalists Muzaffer Tunç and Emrullah Oruç. The next hearing is scheduled for Nov. 27.

Eren Keskin

Meanwhile, Eren Keskin and Hüseyin Aykol, co-editors of the pro-Kurdish Özgür Gündem newspaper, which was shut down by the Turkish government decree under the state of emergency, appeared in a Turkish court in İstanbul on Monday. Keskin, her lawyers and a large crowd attended the hearing.

Keskin, herself a very well-known and established lawyer as well as a human rights defender, said at the court hearing that “I am the co-president of the Human Rights Association (İHD). I have been defending human rights as a lawyer for 30 years. Many have been slaughtered in this country, beginning with [Kurdish intellectual] Musa Anter and still the killers remain unknown. I am being tried as a terrorist, but in my life time I have not seen any weapons other than a police weapon. Human rights defenders are standing trial. The judiciary is not independent.”

The court adjourned the hearing to the October 9, in light of the request for the merging of this case with the main case of the Özgür Gündem at İstanbul 23rd High Criminal Court.

Turkey is ranked 157th among 180 countries in the 2018 World Press Freedom Index released by Reporters Without Borders (RSF). If Turkey falls two more places, it will make it to the list of countries on the blacklist, which have the poorest record in press freedom.

Turkey is the biggest jailer of journalists in the world. The most recent figures documented by SCF show that 240 journalists and media workers were in jail as of July 7, 2018, most in pretrial detention. Of those in prison 179 were under arrest pending trial while only 61 journalists have been convicted and are serving their time. Detention warrants are outstanding for 143 journalists who are living in exile or remain at large in Turkey.

Detaining tens of thousands of people over alleged links to the Gülen movement, the government also closed down some 200 media outlets, including Kurdish news agencies and newspapers, after a coup attempt in Turkey on July 15, 2016. (SCF with turkishminute.com)

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