Turkish court releases pro-Kurdish journalist Duran from prison for health reasons

A Turkish court ruled on Monday to release jailed journalist Metin Duran from prison following a report issued by Turkey’s Institute of Forensic Medicine stating that “his health has rendered him unfit to remain in prison.”

Born in the Nusaybin district of Mardin province, Duran used to work for Radyo Rengin until the radio station was closed by a government decree under a state of emergency declared in the aftermath of a controversial coup attempt on July 15, 2016.

According to a report by the pro-Kurdish Mezopotamya news agency, Duran had a heart attack and was put in intensive care in a hospital where he was diagnosed as paralyzed. After his treatment, he stayed with his relatives since his home in Nusaybin was destroyed during curfews in the area. A sentence of three years, three months and 15 days in prison handed down by a lower court was subsequently upheld by a higher court. He was arrested and sent to Sincan Prison in Ankara.

According to the Human Rights Association (İHD) Prison Commission, there were 1,154 ailing inmates in prisons across Turkey, 401 in critical condition, as of March 2, 2018.

Turkey is ranked 157th among 180 countries in the 2018 World Press Freedom Index released by Reporters Without Borders (RSF). If Turkey falls two more places, it will make it to the list of countries on the blacklist, which have the poorest record in press freedom.

Turkey is the biggest jailer of journalists in the world. The most recent figures documented by SCF show that 236 journalists and media workers were in jail as of Sept. 13, 2018, most in pretrial detention. Of those in prison 168 were under arrest pending trial while only 68 journalists have been convicted and are serving their time. Detention warrants are outstanding for 147 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 some 200 media outlets, including Kurdish news agencies and newspapers, after the coup attempt in Turkey on July 15, 2016.

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