Turkish court rules to jail Kurdish journalist Berzan Güneş in Şırnak province

A court in Turkey’s eastern Şırnak province on Monday ruled to jail Kurdish journalist Berzan Güneş, a reporter for the pro-Kurdish Mezopotamya news agency, over his social media posts critical of the government.

According to a report by the Fırat news agency (ANF), Güneş had gone to Şırnak city center to follow up on a news story. The journalist was taken to court after being detained at a police checkpoint in the morning hours.

Güneş was detained as part of an investigation launched by the Iğdır Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office and was taken to the Şırnak Courthouse where he testified to the Iğdır Criminal Court via the Sound and Video Information System (SEGBİS) concerning content shared on his social media accounts.

This was the second time Güneş had given a statement to the Iğdır Criminal Court.

He arrested on charges of “disseminating propaganda for the organisation,” which refers to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK). Güneş’s camera was confiscated when he was taken to Şırnak T Type Closed Prison.

On April 4, 2018, the journalist’s father, Ahmet Güneş (68), was taken into custody during a house search carried out by police who were looking for his son in Iğdır province. His father was subsequently released. Upon learning that he was being sought by the police, the journalist went to the Cizre Police Department, gave a statement and was released.

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 242 journalists and media workers were in jail as of June 3, 2018, most in pretrial detention. Of those in prison 182 were under arrest pending trial while only 60 journalists have been convicted and are serving their time. Detention warrants are outstanding for 142 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 a coup attempt in Turkey on July 15, 2016.

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