The indictment against four jailed journalists, who were sent to prison in October 2020 regarding their reporting work in exposing the news about Kurdish villagers that were thrown from a Turkish military helicopter by Turkish soldiers in Van (Wan) came after 130 days in detention awaiting charges, outlining scandalous charges against them.
Mesopotamia Agency (MA) reporters Adnan Bilen and Cemil Uğur, Jin News reporter Şehriban Abi and journalist Nazan Sala were arrested on the grounds that they had reported that Osman Şiban and Servet Turgut had been detained and thrown from a military helicopter by soldiers in Çatak district in the city of Van (Wan) in Turkey.
Whilst the investigation regarding the case file of the journalists has been completed after 130 days of detention, the Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office in Van submitted the indictment outlining the formal charges against the jailed journalists.
The details of the indictiment shared by the Mesopotamia Agency revealed that the four jailed journalists, Adnan Bilen and Cemil Uğur, Şehriban Abi and Nazan Sala and another journalist, Zeynep Durgut, who was jailed but released later on bail, face charges on the grounds of “being a member of a terrorist organisation” and “spreading propaganda”.
‘No sport and magazine news’
The indictment, which lists the establishment principles and the purposes of the Kurdistan Communities Union (KCK) accuses the journalists of “being a member of a terrorist organisation” linking their journalistic work to the so-called purposes of the KCK.
Based on the allegations of Turkey’s Intelligence Branch Directorate, the news agencies and newspapers, the accused journalists work for were also accused of “making publications with provocative content against the state”. The censorship of the Turkish state targeting Mesopotamia Agency and Jin News was referred to in the indictment as a grounds for the accusations, stating that their websites have already been banned previously.
“It was observed that they did not pubish news related to sports, make magazines or cover natural events etc. because it was not in line with the KCK press committee’s perspective,” said the indictment, accusing the five journalists for the kind of news that they ‘did not make’.
The footages for video news are also a ‘crime’
The indictment also included lists of telephones, computers and journalistic materials seized during the house raids. Adnan Bilen, one of the arrested journalists, was accused of having photographs of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) leader Abdullah Öcalan in his news archive.
In the indictment, it is reminded that Bilen was previously convicted of “making propaganda for a terrorist organisation”, suggesting that the interviews and the news sources while he was working for the Mesopotamia Agency were also subject to accusation. The current indictment considered the previous accusations in the previous indictments against the journalists as a ground for the new accusations, revealing that the Turkish state must keep track of all legal records of the journalists as the confidential and personal legal histories of the journalists are shared among different judicial authorities for completely independent case files opened against them on different occasions.
Özgür Gündem and Azadiya Welat newspapers, which were confiscated by the police during the raid in Mesopotamia Agency’s Van bureau were considered as grounds for accusations against the journalists.
Journalist Nazan Sala was accused of meeting with some of her news sources whilst her posts on social media were considered as grounds for accusations in the indictment.
Reporting ‘ill prisoners’ is a crime!
The journalistic work carried out by the journalists were considered a crime as “As a result of the digital investigation it was seen that they have reported some news content which spreads organisational propaganda,” said the indictiment, which also listed some Kurdish books as grounds of accusations.
Cemil Uğur’s interview with his brother, Mahir Aktaş, regarding the health condition of an ill prisoner Ergin Aktaş, was also deemed a crime. In the relevant part of the indictment, it was stated that “… it was determined that he made an interview that included a call for all sick prisoners be released, regardless of political or judicial discrimination.”