16 journalists detained in Turkey on suspicion of terrorism
Turkey– Sixteen Turkish journalists associated to pro-Kurdish media sites were remanded in detention pending trial on Thursday, accusing them of membership to a “terrorist group,” according to a lawyer.
The journalists worked for outlets affiliated with the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), which is facing a ban in Turkey due to alleged ties to outlawed insurgents fighting the Turkish state for decades.
The 16 were arrested on June 8 in Diyarbakir, southeast Turkey, together with four other journalists, on suspicion of being members of the banned Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which Ankara, the EU, and the US have designated as a “terrorist” group. The HDP claims to have no formal ties to the PKK.
According to the arrest record, the 16 were suspected of “belonging to a terrorist organisation” on Thursday. They had been imprisoned pending trial, according to a defence counsel. Serdar Altan, co-president of a journalist’s association, is one of them.
The other four were released on supervised release. Erol Onderoglu, a representative of Reporters Without Borders (RSF) in Turkey, described the detentions as an attempt to weaken the “Kurdish political class… and deprive them of a voice” ahead of next year’s presidential election in Turkey.
Turkey has stated that it intends to launch an operation against Kurdish militants in northern Syria. Following a failed coup attempt against President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in 2016, the government cracked down on the HDP, arresting dozens of current and former members.
The crackdown has upset Turkey’s western friends, who have warned that it risks further eroding diplomatic ties with Erdogan’s government. Turkey is ranked 149th out of 180 nations in RSF’s 2022 press freedom ranking, and is frequently chastised for censoring critical media.