Journalists Hürtaş, Demir and dozens more detained by Turkish police over criticism against Afrin operation

Journalist Sibel Hürtaş, Ankara Bureau Chief of Germany-based online news outlet Artı Gerçek was detained by Turkish police at her house in Ankara on Monday midnight.

The search of journalist Hürtaş’s house and her detention by police was announced by her husband Orhan Kemal Cengiz, a lawyer, human rights activist and journalist, on his twitter account. The reason of Hürtaş’s detention has not explained by the police.

Meanwhile, it was also reported that pro-Kurdish Mesopotamia news agency reporter  Hayri Demir and director Fatin Kanat were also detained following police raids on their apartments in Ankara. Journalists Seda Taşkın, Aziz Tunç, İlhan Siyahtaş and İsmail Eskin were also taken into custody by Turkish police.

Turkish police conducted a large scale operation and raided dozens of houses in Turkish capital Ankara in connection with social media posts against Turkey’s military operation and aerial bombardments on Afrin. According to reports, Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) Party Assembly member Kemal Bülbül and HDP Ankara provincial administrator Osman Konukçu are among the many HDP members that were taken into custody following house raids.

Police also raided the homes of HDP Ankara provincial administrator Zeyno Bayramoğlu and her sister, HDP Çankaya district administrator Aslı Bayramoğlu. The sisters could not be detained because they were not home during the operation. Human Rights Association (İHD) Ankara administrator and Prisons Commission member Nuray Çevirmen was also detained.


Meanwhile, the number of detainees across Turkey over their posts on social media has increased to 58 on Monday. The detainees have been accused of promoting the PYD/PKK terrorist group on their social media accounts.

According to a report by state-run Anadolu news agency, investigations were launched by chief public prosecutor’s offices in Ankara, Van, Diyarbakır, Mardin, Muş, and İstanbul on Sunday against some social media users who allegedly voiced support for the PYD/PKK terror group.

As part of the investigation by the Diyarbakir’s Chief Public Prosecutors Office, eight people were detained in the southeastern province when anti-terrorism units carried out simultaneous operations across the province. The detentions came after the provincial chief public prosecutor’s office issued detentions warrants for 17 people who were suspected of spreading the terrorist organization’s propaganda via social media, as well as of inciting people of Kurdish origin to take to the streets by allegedly sharing provocative and delusive photographs about the ongoing Turkish military operation in Syria’s Afrin.

Another 36 people were detained in the Ankara, Kütahya, Mardin, Van, Muş, Muğla and Kars provinces on Monday. Six people were also detained in Bursa for allegedly promoting propaganda for the KCK/PKK. Security forces also detained six more people in Ağrı, Kayseri and Bingöl provinces for similar charges.

Police also arrested co-chair of the umbrella group Democratic Society Congress (DTK) Leyla Güven in southeastern Diyarbakır province on the charges of inciting hatred and hostility through propaganda activities on social media.

Meanwhile, the public prosecutors’ offices in Ankara and İstanbul have issued detention warrants for 12 and 18 people, respectively, over similar alleged propaganda activities on social media. Another suspect was detained in the southeastern Mardin province for allegedly promoting the PKK terrorist organization and sharing erroneous information about the Afrin operation. The detention came as part of the investigation launched by the Mardin’s Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office.

Separately, İstanbul’s Anatolia Chief Prosecutor’s Office officially launched an investigation into 57 people suspected of spreading terrorist propaganda against the operation via social media. The suspects were accused of “insulting a public official”, “inciting hatred and enmity among people”, “insulting the president”, “humiliating the Turkish people, government, and military organization overtly”, and “propagating terrorist organization ideas” with regards to Twitter activity.

Turkey is the biggest jailer of journalists in the world. The most recent figures documented by the SCF has showed that 242 journalists and media workers are in jails as of January 4, 2018, most in pre-trial detention languishing in notorious Turkish prisons without even a conviction. Of those in Turkish prisons, 215 are arrested pending trial, only 27 journalists remain convicted and serving time in Turkish prisons. An outstanding detention warrants remain for 138 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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