Türkiye remands 16 journalists on 'terror' charges

Türkiye remands 16 journalists on 'terror' charges
(Photo: Envato Elements)
Ankara (AFP) — Sixteen Turkish journalists linked to pro-Kurdish media outlets were remanded into custody on Thursday, accused of belonging to a "terrorist organization," a lawyer said.اضافة اعلان

The journalists worked for media aligned with the pro-Kurdish Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP), which risks being banned in Türkiye over alleged links to outlawed militants waging a decades-long insurgency against the Turkish state.

"We are living in the darkest days of our country as far as press freedom is concerned," said Nazim Bilgin, president of the Journalists Association of Türkiye.

Twenty journalists were detained on June 8 in Diyarbakir in southeast Türkiye, accused of belonging to the press services of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), classed as a "terrorist" group by Ankara, the EU, and the United States.

The HDP denies formal ties to the PKK.

On Thursday, 16 were accused of "belonging to a terrorist organization," according to the arrest document. A defense lawyer confirmed they had been jailed pending trial.

The other four journalists were released under judicial supervision.

According to local media, the journalists were questioned by the prosecutor about the content of their articles.

A representative from the Turkish arm of Reporters Without Borders (RSF), Erol Onderoglu, called the detentions an attempt to weaken the "Kurdish political class... and deprive them of a voice" ahead of Türkiye's presidential election next year.

On Wednesday, the Turkish parliament's justice committee adopted a bill that would enshrine prison sentences for any journalist or citizen found guilty of "public dissemination of misleading information."

Bilgin described the text as a "law of censorship." The bill needs to be adopted by parliament before it can pass into law.

Türkiye says it is planning to launch an offensive in northern Syria against Kurdish militants.

The HDP has already seen scores of current and former members arrested in a government crackdown that followed a failed coup attempt against President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in 2016.

Türkiye's western allies have been alarmed by the crackdown, warning that it threatens to further undermine diplomatic ties with Erdogan's government.
Türkiye ranks 149th out of 180 countries in RSF's 2022 press freedom index and is regularly criticized for muzzling press critical of the government.

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