Turkish government jails two more journalists on ‘terror’ charges

Turkish government has put two more journalists, Veli Büyükşahin and Veli Haydar Güleç  from the now-defunct pro-Alevi television channel TV10, behind the bars on Thursday.

Büyükşahin was the Chairman of the Board of Executives of TV10 TV channel. TV10 is one of at least 180 media outlets the government shut down in the aftermath of a controversial coup attempt on July 15, 2016.

Detained on accusations of membership to a terror group, the two journalists spent some 10 days under police custody along with a few dozen people including some local members of the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP). An İstanbul court has ruled on Thursday for the imprisonment of the journalists and 13 others.

Meanwhile, Turkish police have also detained leftist activists, including the husband of German journalist Meşale Tolu, who was freed from prison last month. Police raided Tolu’s home on Thursday in the Kartal district of İstanbul, where the German journalist lives with her husband Suat Çorlu and her three-year-old son Serkan.

Tolu was charged with being a member of a terrorist organisation and publishing terrorist propaganda, but released on bail before Christmas. She has been banned from leaving Turkey and must report to a police station every week. Her husband, Suat Çorlu, also a journalist and a political activist, was also detained but was released in November 29, 2017.

The dawn raids targeted members of opposition left-wing groups the Socialist Party of the Oppressed (ESP) and the Federation of Socialist Youth Associations (SGDF), Reuters reported .

The news could complicate efforts by Germany and Turkey to mend strained ties, Reuters said. Bilateral consultations between two NATO allies were suspended after Ankara’s arrest of another German-Turkish journalist, Deniz Yücel, in February 2017. Germany insists that the detentions of Yücel and other journalists are unjustified and politically motivated.

Turkey is the biggest jailer of journalists in the world. The most recent figures documented by the SCF has showed that 242 journalists and media workers are in jails as of January 4, 2018, most in pre-trial detention languishing in notorious Turkish prisons without even a conviction. Of those in Turkish prisons, 215 are arrested pending trial, only 27 journalists remain convicted and serving time in Turkish prisons. An outstanding detention warrants remain for 138 journalists who live 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 more than 180 media outlets after the controversial coup attempt.

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