Turkish court jails all detained employees of pro-Kurdish Özgürlükçü Demokrasi newspaper

A Turkish court has arrested and put in pretrial detention all detained executives and employees of the pro-Kurdish Özgürlükçü Demokrasi newspaper and Gün Printing House, which were seized by the Turkish government last week.

Police raided the offices of Özgürlükçü Demokrasi and the Gün Printing House in İstanbul last week, after which a trustee was appointed to the newspaper and workers were taken into custody.

The newspaper’s grant holder İhsan Yaşar and managing editor İshak Yasul were referred to the İstanbul Courthouse on Friday. The court decided to jail both executives for “membership in a terrorist organisation” and “spreading propaganda for a terrorist organisation.”

According to a report by the pro-Kurdish Fırat news agency (ANF), a Turkish court also ruled on Thursday to put in pretrial detention 20 employees of the seized Gün Printing House, among them Cumali Öz, Mehmet Kadir Özkara, Mürsel Demir, Özgür Bozkurt, Kemal Daşdöğen, Süleyman Güneş, Muhammet Özkan and Oğuz Selman Kelekçiler, who stand accused of “knowingly and willfully aiding and abetting a terrorist organisation.”

Gün Printing House owner Kasım Zengin and workers Erdoğan Zamur, Cemal Tunç, İhsan Sinmiş, İrfan Karaca, Kazım Göçer, Mehmet Emin Sümeli, Musa Kaya, Sadettin Demirtaş, Necat Hizarcı, Polat Arslan and Mahmut Abay were also put in pretrial detention on charges of allegedly “being member of and spreading propaganda for a terrorist organisation.”

In the meantime, it was reported that editors and media workers Mehmet Ali Çelebi, Reyhan Hacıoğlu, Hicran Ürün, Pınar Tarlak, Ramazan Sola and Nedim Demirkıran and former employee Mehmet Beyazit are still in police custody.

Turkey is the biggest jailer of journalists in the world. The most recent figures documented by SCF show that 245 journalists and media workers were in jail as of April 4, 2018, most in pretrial detention. Of those in prison 188 were under arrest pending trial while only 57 journalists have been convicted and are serving their time. Detention warrants are outstanding for 140 journalists who are living 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 about 200 media outlets after the controversial coup attempt on July 15, 2016.

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