After 8 days in police custody, the journalists have been imprisoned pending trial on the charge of “membership in a terrorist organization”
15 journalists and one media worker, who were arrested on 8 June in raids carried out on several homes and offices as part of an investigation launched by the Diyarbakır Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office, were imprisoned pending trial after testifying before a judge in the wee hours on 16 June.
A total of 22 people, including 19 journalists, had been arrested in Diyarbakır and the northwestern town of Gebze as part of the operation. The prosecutor’s office imposed a confidentiality order on the case file, preventing the lawyers from accessing information on the grounds for the arrests and charges directed at the journalists.
After eight days in detention, the detainees were finally referred to the prosecutor’s office in charge of the investigation on 15 June. The detained journalists reportedly exercised their right to remain silent when they were questioned at the police directorate earlier. After giving their statements to the prosecutor, they were referred a Criminal Judgeship of Peace later in the day. The journalists denied the accusations and stated that they were just practicing journalism in their statements to the prosecutor and at the court, which lasted into early hours of 16 June.
The judgeship ordered imprisonment pending trial of JinNews Director Safiye Alagaş, Mezopotamya News Agency editor Aziz Oruç, Dicle Fırat Journalists’ Association (DFG) Co-Chair Serdar Altan, daily Xwebün Managing Editor Mehmet Ali Ertaş, Xwebun editor Zeynel Abidin Bulut, Xwebun columnist Mehmet Şahin, journalists Ömer Çelik, Lezgin Akdeniz, Elif Üngür, Neşe Toprak, camera operator Abdurrahman Öncü, camera operator and video editor İbrahim Koyuncu, filmmaker Mazlum Doğan Güler, camera operator Ramazan Geciken, Remziye Temel and camera operator Suat Doğuhan. They were then transferred to the Diyarbakır Prison.
Lawyer Resul Temur said the journalists were charged with “membership in a terrorist organization” on the basis of the news programs they produced. He said they were asked about the content of the programs or interviews and were questioned on whether they were “instructed” to produce such content.
News reports quoting police sources have earlier said that the investigation was based on the coverage that was produced by the journalists and broadcasted in Sterk TV and Medya Haber TV, which operate out of Europe and are banned in Turkey.
The warrant for arrests of the journalists issued by the Diyarbakır Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office noted that it had been found out that the journalists produced content for the Sterk TV and Medya Haber TV that “operate under the guidance from the PKK/KCK terrorist organization.” The prosecutor’s office also said that the coverage examined in the course of the investigation contained “PKK propaganda and criminal elements” and claimed that the journalists were a part of the “Press Committee” that operates as part of the KCK.
It further cited the statement of a person who is said to have fled the PKK and surrendered to the security forces, saying that the coverage of Sterk TV and a radio station called Denge Kürdistan were used to notify members of the PKK about the take-offs of military planes.