Voice of America reporter Arif Aslan arrested in Turkey

Arif Aslan, a correspondent for the Voice of America (VOA) Kurdish service, was arrested today in the eastern Turkish province of Van.

He was following a democracy march started by the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP).

Speaking to Gazete Duvar, Aslan’s lawyer, Cahit Durmaz, said he was arrested due to a previous conviction dating back to 2016-2017 and was expected to be released on parole after around two weeks in prison.

Aslan was previously arrested on March 31, 2017, reportedly for photographing the barriers put in front of the municipal building in Van after the Turkish government appointed a caretaker to replace the democratically elected mayor from the HDP. Aslan was charged with membership in a terrorist organization and released pending trial on November 21, 2017.

Over the past few years the Turkish government has imprisoned many journalists, both Turkish and foreign, over their reports on the country’s predominantly Kurdish Southeast, which has seen an escalation of violence since the breakdown of the government’s peace talks with the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) in the summer of 2015.

Turkey is one of the worst jailers of journalists in the world. The most recent figures documented by SCF show that 154 journalists were behind bars as of June 16, 2020. Detention warrants are outstanding for some 170 journalists, however, who live in exile or remain at large in Turkey.

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