A Turkish court on Thursday ruled for the arrest of four journalists affiliated with the Etkin News Agency (ETHA) and ordered that they be put in pretrial detention.
The arrestees, Semiha Şahin, Pınar Gayıp, Ferhat Harun Pehlivan and Gülsen İmre, are accused of “membership in a terrorist organisation” and “spreading propaganda on behalf of a terrorist organisation.”
ETHA Editor-in-Chief Derya Okatan describes the news agency as an “independent” media outlet that aims to make “the voices of the oppressed heard,” including the LGBT community, women, youths and Kurds, as well as minorities such as Armenians and members of the Alevi sect of Islam.
ETHA’s website, which has been blocked in Turkey for roughly two years by the country’s communications authority (BTK), features domestic and international news stories that focus on the “oppressed” groups.
Turkey is the biggest jailer of journalists in the world. The most recent figures documented by SCF show that 256 journalists and media workers were in jail as of April 11, 2018, most in pretrial detention. Of those in prison 197 were under arrest pending trial while only 58 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.