Turkish gov’t seizes pro-Kurdish paper Özgürlükçü Demokrasi, detains 21

Turkish authorities have taken control of the pro-Kurdish Özgürlükçü Demokrasi newspaper on the grounds that it has links to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), detaining 21 people including employees after a police raid on the paper’s offices in the early hours of Wednesday.

The headquarters of Özgürlükçü Demokrasi in the Beyoğlu district of İstanbul and its printing house were raided and searched by police teams upon an order from the İstanbul Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office.

Hüseyin Aykol, who writes for Özgürlükçü Demokrasi, told the Bianet news website on Wednesday that the newspaper has been transferred to the Saving Deposit Insurance Fund (TMSF) and a trustee appointed.

Özgürlükçü Demokrasi is the successor of the Özgür Gündem newspaper, which was closed down by the Turkish government in the aftermath of a failed coup attempt on July 15, 2016.

Since the coup attempt, the Justice and Development Party (AKP) government has taken over or closed down hundreds of media outlets in the country including Turkey’s best-selling newspaper, Zaman.

Turkey is the biggest jailer of journalists in the world. The most recent figures documented by SCF show that 245 journalists and media workers were in jail as of March 26, 2018, most in pretrial detention. Of those in prison 189 were under arrest pending trial while only 56 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. (SCF with turkishminute.com)

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