The chief public prosecutor in Turkey’s southeastern Diyarbakır (Amed) province has not prepared an indictment against 16 Kurdish journalists to date, as they remain in pre-trial detention for six months.
Dicle Fırat Journalists Association (DFG) and Mezopotamya Women Journalists Platform (MKGP) demand the journalists, arrested in June, be released. The agencies also say it is criminal to keep them in prison without an indictment.
Turkey continues to violate free press rights, and uses the judiciary as a punishment that poses a threat to independent journalism.
DFG Co-chair Dicle Müftüoğlu said there was “not a single piece of evidence” that could be used against the jailed 16.
The evidence confiscated in the raids against media organisations “clearly shows that it was only journalism that was targeted”, she said.
“We know that journalism is not a crime,” Müftüoğlu said. “Whereas it is a crime to keep our friends away from their profession without any justification. Targeting journalism is a crime. It is a crime to attack freedom of thought and expression, freedom of the press.”
Following eight days of police custody in solitary confinement and a full day of questioning at the prosecutor’s office, 16 out of the 21 journalists who were arrested on 8 June were sent to prison on 16 June by court order to await trial.
According to the US-based watchdog Committee to Protect Journalists, the total number of journalists held in Turkey rose to 40 in 2022 from 18 in 2021, after 25 Kurdish journalists were arrested in the second half of the year.
The Journalists Association of Turkey awarded the jailed Kurdish journalists with the 2022 Press Freedom Prize on 8 July.