Female journalists say Turkish police beat them, threatened rape during raid

Photo: Gazete Karınca

A group of journalists said Turkish police beat them and threatened them with rape during a raid on the office of a pro-Kurdish newspaper in İstanbul, reported by online news outlet Ahval on Friday.

According to the report, Turkish police conducted a raid on Özgür Gündem newspaper to shut it down on Aug. 16, 2016, after a Turkish court ordered its temporary closure, accusing it of links with Kurdish militants and spreading terrorist propaganda. During the raid, police detained 22 journalists, including reporters from other outlets who were at the scene to report the raid. Prosecutors charged the reporters with resisting arrest and insulting officers.

At the first hearing on Friday, nine of the journalists said riot police officers beat them during their arrest and threatened one with rape, reported by Turkish newspaper Cumhuriyet.

“As I was taken downstairs in handcuffs, a plain-clothes officer hit me in the back with a metal bar. When I protested, he threatened to rape me,” Gülfem Karataş, a reporter for the Turkish left-leaning television channel IMC TV was quoted by Cumhuriyet as telling the court.

The police attacked journalists during the raid and shouted, “You will see the power of the (Turkish) state,” another journalist, Reyhan Hacıoğlu, told the court according to Cumhuriyet. “I am tried as a suspect, but instead I should be heard as a witness here,” she said.

The court ordered the official police video recordings of the raid to be provided, and three police officers who are plaintiffs against the journalists be present at the next hearing on June 29, Cumhuriyet said.

Turkey is the biggest jailer of journalists in the world. The most recent figures documented by the SCF has showed that 245 journalists and media workers are in jails as of January 24, 2018, most in pre-trial detention languishing in notorious Turkish prisons without even a conviction. Of those in Turkish prisons, 218 are arrested pending trial, only 27 journalists remain convicted and serving time in Turkish prisons. An outstanding detention warrants remain for 140 journalists who live 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 more than 180 media outlets after the controversial coup attempt.

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