Turkish court releases six journalists under judicial control, places four under house arrest

A Turkish court released six journalists, including Cihan Başakçıoğlu of Gazete Duvar, after three days in detention under judicial control measures, and ordered house arrest for four of them. The journalists were detained on “terrorist organization membership” claims.

Duvar English

An İzmir court on Feb. 16 released six journalists after three days of detention under judicial control measures, including Cihan Başakçıoğlu of Gazete Duvar, and ordered house arrest for four of them.

Alongside Başakçıoğlu were Semra Turan, Delal Akyüz, and Tolga Güney of the pro-Kurdish Mesopotamia Agency (MA), Melike Aydın of the Kurdish all-female JinNews, and pro-Kurdish People’s Democracy and Equality (DEM) Party press member Fatma Funda Akbulut. 

The court released Başakçıoğlu and Turan with an international travel ban and judicial control measures. Güney, Aydın, Akyüz, and Akbulut were given house arrests with travel bans. 

The journalists were detained from their homes in a morning operation on Feb. 13, and their homes were searched. The reason for the detainment was later disclosed as “membership to a terrorist organization.” 

Police questioned the journalists two days after they were detained, and asked about their phone calls in the past year with various environmental activists, academics dismissed with presidential decrees (KHK), political party representatives, and attorneys. 

Journalists’ articles on workers’ resistance, environment, and ecology were presented as “terrorist organization activity” in the indictments.  

Colleagues and loved ones greeted the released journalists with applause. Semra Turan described the investigation file as “makeshift,” and said they faced lawlessness for the last four days. 

Colleagues and loved ones greet the released journalists in front of the courthouse.

“Most absurd was that they questioned a piece on the sexual assault case of an autistic child,” the journalist said. 

Turan added, “They asked about our articles on the solution of the Kurdish problem. We are detained and questioned for reporting what is going on in this country,” and emphasized the pressure on the Kurdish press. 

The Journalists’ Union of Turkey (TGS) condemned the judicial control measure given to the journalists. “We cannot accept this treatment of journalists who are accused of their occupation,” read the union statement. 

According to the union, the court was abusing the judicial control measure as a punishment.