Turkish authorities should cease harassing the Etkin News Agency (ETHA) and return all property that was confiscated from its office, the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) said in a statement on Thursday.
The CPJ also asked for the immediate release of journalist Pınar Gayıp of ETHA.
Turkish police raided the İstanbul office of ETHA, a news agency supportive of the Socialist Party of the Oppressed yesterday. During the raid they broke the front door of the news agency’s office and searched its premises, seizing camera memory cards, computer hard drives and TL 6,600 ($893) in cash, according to the press statement.
The police detained Gayıp, a reporter with the agency, at her home in İstanbul and sought to arrest editor İsminaz Temel but could not find her, according to ETHA’s report.
The state-run Anadolu news agency reported that the detentions were the result of an investigation into several outlawed groups, including the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), the Marxist Leninist Communist Party (MLKP), the Communist Party of Turkey/Marxist-Leninist (TKP/ML) and the Revolutionary Socialist Workers’ Movement (DSİH).
It is not yet known whether authorities have formally filed charges in the case.
“Night raids on newsrooms and journalists’ homes should never happen in a country where press freedom is respected,” said Gulnoza Said, CPJ’s Europe and Central Asia program coordinator, in New York. “Turkish authorities should release journalist Pınar Gayıp immediately, cease harassing the Etkin News Agency, and return all property that was confiscated from its office.”
According to the ETHA report, the police raid was conducted without the presence of any agency staffers or lawyers. The Code on Criminal Procedure bars authorities from conducting searches without the presence of suspects or their legal representatives.
According to the Stockholm Center for Freedom’s “Jailed and Wanted Journalists in Turkey” database, 175 Turkish journalists are behind bars and 167 are wanted and either in exile or at large. Media freedom watchdog Reporters Without Borders (RSF) describes Turkey as “the world’s biggest jailer of professional journalists.”