Abdurrahman Gök, a Kurdish journalist and editor from Mezopotamya Agency (MA), will face his second court hearing tomorrow, on Tuesday, under charges stemming from a 19th-century book and testimony by an unknown witness. Gök, who has been detained for over seven months, is accused of “membership in a terrorist organisation” and “making propaganda for a terrorist organisation”.
Gök, a journalist with over 20 years of experience, has covered significant events including the Yazidi crisis in Sinjar (Shengal), Iraqi Kurdistan, a 2014 ISIS siege of Kurdish-majority northern Syrian town Kobanê, and the murder of Kurdish youth Kemal Kurkut by Turkish police in 2017. His work also includes reporting on the Jîna Emînî (Mahsa Amini) case in Iran and the aftermath of the February 2023 earthquakes in Turkey.
Despite facing multiple arrests and charges throughout his career, Gök remains vocal about press freedom. His current detention followed a widespread operation by the Diyarbakır Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office in April, involving 126 individuals, mostly from the Kurdish press.
The primary evidence against Gök includes testimony from Ümit Akbıyık, a witness claiming that Gök worked for Pel Production and followed instructions from terrorist organisation members. Gök has refuted these allegations, stating that he had never worked for Pel Production and was implicated based on false statements.
The 14-page indictment against Gök also focuses on a YouTube documentary titled ‘Kobanê; ne fîlm e ne belgefîlm e’, which the prosecution claims propagates terrorist organisation ideology. Gök defends the documentary as a realistic portrayal of Kobanê, emphasising the city’s significance in the fight against ISIS.
Another peculiar accusation in the indictment involves Gök’s coverage of Élisée Reclus’ book ‘A Mountain’s Story’, written in the 1830s and translated into Turkish in 2021. Gök argues that this is an attempt to criminalise the word “mountain” used in his reporting.
Additional charges stem from Gök’s phone calls with colleagues and books seized during a house search. The case also includes a letter to the Justice Minister from the Kısa family in Elbistan, reported by Gök.
Gök’s trial is seen as part of a broader pattern of government efforts to suppress independent journalism in Turkey, especially targeting Kurdish media. He remains defiant, stating that while he may be physically restrained, his conscience remains free. The trial will resume on 5 December, at the Diyarbakır 5th High Criminal Court.