Greek journalists file criminal complaint against Turkish officials who destroyed their equipment

Greek journalists, whose equipment was damaged by employees of Turkey’s Religious Affairs Directorate (Diyanet) while they were covering the aftermath of massive earthquakes that struck the country in February, have filed a criminal complaint against the responsible individuals, the Media and Law Studies Association (MLSA) reported.

On Monday lawyers from the MLSA, representing Greek journalists Kyriakos Finas, Victoras Antonopoulos and Konstantinos Zilos, filed the complaint with the Hatay Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office accusing the officials responsible of property damage, abuse of public duty, violation of labor rights and theft.

The 7.8 and 7.5-magnitude earthquakes, which hit the country’s south and southeast on February 6, claimed over 50,000 lives, flattened entire cities and displaced millions of people.

The Greek journalists said they were warned by Diyanet staff accompanied by several gendarmes to avoid filming a mass burial site in the Antakya district of Hatay, one of the areas hardest hit by the powerful earthquakes, on February 16.

Zilos, who had gone ahead of the others, didn’t hear the warning and photographed the burial site, MLSA had earlier said, adding that the journalists were then taken to an administrative building belonging to the Diyanet, where their cameras and equipment were confiscated.

After they waited outside the building for five hours and still weren’t given their equipment back, the three journalists returned to their hotel and contacted officials at the Greek Embassy.

On February 17 the freelancers got in touch with Ali İmran Turgut, the Adana regional head of the Directorate of Communications, and were told they could pick up their equipment at the Diyanet building, located near the cemetery.

According to MLSA, the journalists’ three cell phones and two cameras, which they estimate to be worth a total of €4500 ($4,830), were handed over to them after being smashed to pieces.

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