Turkish gov’t hands over critical Iranian journalist to Tehran regime

The Turkish government has handed over Iranian opposition journalist Arash Sohashargh to the Tehran regime, according to a report by online news outlet Artı Gerçek.

Columnist Yıldız Candan wrote for Artı Gerçek that Sohashargh, who was accused by Tehran of opposing the regime and who sought asylum in Turkey last year, is being held in a prison in Gilan province. Candan said Sohashargh had been followed by Iranian intelligence, citing the jailed journalist’s family members.

According to Candan’s article, Sohashargh’s family became alarmed when he went missing in the Turkish province of Van in February 2018 despite the fact that the Iranian journalist was under the protection of the United Nations. “If these allegations are true, then there was unlawful cooperation between Turkey and Iran with regard to the extradition of an opposition member,’’ Candan noted.

Iran is accused of the arbitrary arrest and detention of journalists’ family members and the confiscation of passports and travel bans preventing people from leaving Iran as well as the ongoing surveillance of journalists and their families.

Turkish police in plainclothes manhandle HDP deputy Filiz Kerestecioğlu after preventing a group led by her from making a statement against Iran, in front of Iran’s Embassy in Ankara on Monday.

Meanwhile, Turkish police on Monday physically prevented pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) deputies from laying a black wreath in front of the Embassy of Iran in Ankara to protest the imminent execution of Kurdish prisoner Ramin Hossein Panahi.

During an ensuing scuffle, police manhandled HDP deputy Filiz Kerestecioğlu, who wanted to make a statement and grabbed a banner another woman was carrying, according to a report by Kurdistan 24. Police forcefully dispersed the group and also arrested four people who were participating in the demonstration against Panahi’s expected execution, beating one to the ground.

In a statement made by the HDP, Kerestecioglu said the conduct of the Turkish police meant Ankara supported the Tehran government’s policy of executing political prisoners. Appearing along with deputies Saliha Aydeniz and Dirayet Taşdemir, she condemned both states.

“This is the approval of oppression, fascism and capital punishment. They [Turkish authorities] only know how to attack. We do not know what kind of dirty bargains they have with Iran. But we, as deputies, know very well the right to peaceful protest is enshrined in the law,” she said.

An Iranian court in Kurdistan Province sentenced Panahi to death earlier this year for taking up arms against the state.

The HDP’s co-leader Pervin Buldan and Sezai Temelli, meanwhile, for the second time in two months, penned a letter to Iran’s Ambassador Mohammad Ebrahim Taherian Fard, urging his country to halt the carrying out of Panahi’s death sentence.

Former HDP deputy Lezgin Botan called Turkey and Iran “colonialists.”

“If Israel were ever to announce it was going to execute a young Arab man, these low-lives would bring the sky down,” Botan tweeted.

On Monday Panahi’s brother, Amjad Hossein Panahi, said Iranian authorities could carry out the execution within 48 hours.

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 237 journalists and media workers were in jail as of September 2, 2018, most in pretrial detention. Of those in prison 169 were under arrest pending trial while only 68 journalists have been convicted and are serving their time. Detention warrants are outstanding for 145 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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