Turkish authorities must immediately release Mehmet Aslan, a reporter for the pro-Kurdish Mezopotamya News Agency, and refrain from arresting members of the press in relation to vague and unspecified investigations, said the Committee to Protect Journalists yesterday in a press statement.
Citing news reports and his employer, the statement said İstanbul police detained Aslan after raiding his home and then transferred him to the southern city of Antalya. Aslan was said to have been detained as part of an investigation by the Antalya Public Prosecutor’s Office, but the nature of the investigation or whether any charges had been filed in his case are unknown.
“Journalists working for the Mezopotamya News Agency must be allowed to do their jobs without continuous harassment and reprisal from authorities,” said Gulnoza Said, the CPJ’s Europe and Central Asia program coordinator, in New York.
According to the statement, during the one-and-a-half hour police raid of Aslan’s home officers confiscated books and magazines as well as unspecified “digital materials.”
In his recent articles for Mezopotamya, Aslan covered such topics as the rights of Kurdish prisoners in Turkey as well as prisoner hunger strikes and torture allegations.
According to the CPJ, since October 2020 Turkish authorities have arrested at least three other employees of the Mezopotamya News Agency.
Reporters Without Borders (RSF) described Turkey as “the world’s biggest jailer of professional journalists” in its 2020 World Press Freedom Index, in which Turkey was ranked 154th among 180 countries in terms of press freedom.
According to the Stockholm Center for Freedom’s “Jailed and Wanted Journalists in Turkey” database, 174 journalists are currently behind bars in Turkey, while 167 are wanted and are either in exile or remain at large.