Turkey: 16 journalists jailed for “membership of terrorist group”.

Turkey: 16 journalists jailed for “membership of terrorist group”.

Sixteen Turkish journalists were detained on Thursday in Diyarbakir in Turkey’s majority-Kurdish southeast for “affiliation to a terrorist organization,” according to the arrest warrant consulted by AFP.

20 journalists working for media and production companies affiliated with the pro-Kurdish People’s Democratic Party (HDP) were arrested on June 8 for “belonging to the press department” of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which Ankara and its Ankara as Terrorists is considered Western allies.

Since then, sixteen of them have been taken into police custody on Thursday, including Serdar Altan, co-chairman of a journalists’ association who, according to the arrest warrant, is accused of “belonging to a terrorist group”, and one of the journalists’ lawyers, Resul Temir, interviewed by AFP.

The other journalists were released under judicial supervision.

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

“This indicates a pre-election maneuver to cut the rug out from under the Kurdish political class and deprive it of a means of expression,” said Erol Onderoglu, representative of the NGO Reporters Without Borders (RSF) in Turkey. , interviewed by AFP.

He also points out that these arrests come at a time when Turkey says it is preparing an offensive against Kurdish fighters in northern Syria.

NGOs regularly denounce the erosion of press freedom in Turkey, which ranks 149 out of 180 in the 2022 Press Freedom Index published by RSF.

The HDP, the third largest faction in the Turkish parliament, has been accused by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of being the PKK’s “political figurehead”.

Several hundred HDP members have been arrested since 2016, including their charismatic leader Selahattin Demirtas, who was jailed despite European protests.