Turkey remands 16 journalists on 'terror' charges

Published June 16, 2022
An undated file photo of a Turkish policeman standing guard. — Reuters/File
An undated file photo of a Turkish policeman standing guard. — Reuters/File

Sixteen Turkish journalists linked to pro-Kurdish media outlets were remanded into custody on Thursday, pending trial and accused of belonging to a “terrorist organisation,” a lawyer said.

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

The 16 were detained, along with four other journalists, on June 8 in Diyarbakir in southeast Turkey, 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, the 16 were accused of “belonging to a terrorist organisation”, according to the arrest document. A defence lawyer confirmed they had been jailed pending trial.

Also read: Dutch journalist arrested in Turkey after criticising Erdogan

They include Serdar Altan, co-president of a journalists' association.

The other four were released under judicial supervision.

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

Turkey 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 Erdogan in 2016.

Turkey's western allies have been alarmed by the crackdown, warning that it threatens to further undermine diplomatic ties with Erdogan's government.

Turkey ranks 149th out of 180 countries in RSF's 2022 press freedom index and is regularly criticised for muzzling press critical of the government.

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