Journalist investigated for reporting on death of man in police custody

Turkish prosecutors have launched an investigation into a reporter from the pro-opposition Halk TV station for reporting on allegations of mistreatment surrounding the death of a young man in police custody after he was detained on suspicion of looting, Turkish Minute reported, citing Halk TV.

Seyhan Avşar is being investigated by the İstanbul Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office due to her report on Ahmet Güreşçi, 26, who was detained in the southern province of Hatay on Feb. 11 on suspicion of looting, vandalism and rape in the aftermath of two powerful earthquakes in the region.

The twin earthquakes have claimed the lives of more than 43,000 so far and led to massive devastation across 11 provinces in the region.

Avşar is under investigation on allegations of insulting public officials and slander, according to Halk TV.

Güreşçi was allegedly beaten to death by members of the Altınözü gendarmerie unit. His brother, Sabri, who was also detained and reportedly subjected to maltreatment, is still recovering.

The Mezopotamya news agency reported that the preliminary autopsy report of Ahmet Güreşçi showed he died due to a “brain hemorrhage.” His lawyers from the Association of Lawyers for Freedom (ÖHD) told Mezopotamya that a lesion on his body and a fractured nose were also detected, according to the report.

The Turkish government declared a state of emergency in the 11 provinces affected by the earthquake.

Following the earthquakes, unverified videos showing people in uniform attacking civilians who were suspected of looting damaged buildings made the rounds on social media, sparking outrage.

Journalists who are reporting on the shortcomings of the government’s earthquake response are facing immense pressure. Turkey’s media watchdog on Wednesday penalized, through fines and broadcasting bans, three TV stations due to their reporting critical of the government’s post-quake response.

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