Turkey detains 11 journalists in early morning raids

Turkish police detained 11 journalists working for the pro-Kurdish Mezopotamya News Agency and the all-female Jin News website in early morning raids in several provinces.

Duvar English

Turkish police on Oct. 25 raided the houses of several journalists working for the pro-Kurdish Mezopotamya News Agency and the all-female Jin News website, and their offices. The police detained 11 journalists in several provinces as part of an investigation carried out by the Ankara prosecutor's office.

Accordingly, the police raided Mezopotamya News Agency’s Ankara office and houses of journalists in Istanbul, Ankara, Urfa, Diyarbakır, Van and Mardin provinces.

During the raids, police officers seized computers, hard drives, other work equipment and magazines from the journalists’ houses and offices. The police also seized the microphone of Mezopotamya News Agency as an element of crime during in capital Ankara.

The police detained journalists Zema Ağgöz, Diren Yurtsever, Selman Güzelyüz, Hakan Yalçın, Habibe Eren, Derya Ren, Öznur Değer, Emrullah Acar, Berivan Altan, Ceylan Şahinli and Mehmet Günhan working for the Mezopotamya News Agency and the Jin News.

Slamming the detentions, The Journalists' Union of Turkey (TGS) said “On these days when the censorship law came into effect, many journalists' homes were raided and they were detained. Lawyer restrictions have been imposed on our colleagues whose offices are also sought. You will not be able to criminalize journalism with these applications.”

The Confederation of Progressive Trade Unions of Turkey (DİSK) said “Many JIN NEWS and Mezopotamya Agency employees, including our members, were detained in a house raid this morning. At least seven journalists are in custody so far. Journalism is not a crime, release our friends immediately!”

The pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) also called for the immediate release of journalists. 

“The unlawful detentions of MA and JINNEWS reporters show the lawlessness reached by fascism. We condemn these attacks against free press workers in the strongest terms; release the journalists immediately. These attacks did not produce results yesterday and they will not produce results today,” the HDP said.

HDP co-chair Mithat Sancar called the detentions as part “of a plan to silence the opposition press and society.”

“We woke up this morning to a new wave of detentions. During the raids, the police pointed guns at the journalists, handcuffed them from behind. This operation, which took place immediately after the enactment of the censorship law, is no accident. It is part of a plan to silence the opposition press and society. It is an attack on the public's freedom of information,” Sancar said during his party’s parliamentary group meeting.

Turkey ranks a low 149 out of 180 countries on the Reporters Without Borders's (RSF) World Press Freedom Index, which describes it as a country in which "all possible means are used to undermine critics."