The case against Abdurrahman Gök is based on fabricated secret witness testimony, and the case appears to be a vindictive act over the Kurdish journalist’s work, Media and Law Studies Association (MLSA) Co-director Veysel Ok told Mezopotamya Agency ahead of Gök’s trial on Thursday.
“They fabricated a secret witness to legitimise Gök’s arrest,” Ok said. “The witness gave contradicting statements. The same happened to another 15 journalists who were arrested. These arrests are not independent.”
According to Ok, the indictment against Gök was motivated by hate and revenge against the journalist for revealing the conditions under which a young Kurdish man was killed by the police during a Newroz celebration.
Gök was arrested in April, together with reporter Mehmet Şah Oruç. The secret witness who testified against him had previously testified against 20 other Kurdish journalists, who were arrested in June 2022 and continue to face charges of terrorism similar to what Gök is accused of.
Both journalists will face a judge on Thursday, for the first time since their arrest. They both face charges of membership in a terrorist organisation, while Oruç is also accused of terrorist propaganda.
The indictment contains interviews with sources and news stories the journalists have written, Ok said. The MLSA co-director believes that both journalists should be released after the first hearing.
Gök and Oruç have been “terrorised” over their journalistic activity, Journalists Union of Turkey (TGS) Chairman Gökhan Durmuş told Mezopotamya. “There is no crime to speak of, and no evidence save for false testimony. It is unacceptable to deprive persons of their liberty based on lies.”
“In these cases journalists are arrested over excuses and preposterous claims. Everybody knows the truth. Gök is paying for the photos of Kemal Kurkut he took at Newroz,” Media and Print Workers Union (Basın-İş) Chairman Faruk Eren said. “Journalists have faced even harsher oppression than this. Young colleagues must not fret. We will get through these dark days with solidarity.”
The stories Oruç is charged over include interviews with then-MP Leyla Güven, who went on a long-term hunger strike in 2018, and Democratic Regions Party (DBP) Co-chair Saliha Aydeniz, who spoke about the Idlib Accord between Turkey and Russia following the death of 34 Turkish soldiers in a Russian airstrike.
Oruç also wrote about the old city neighbourhood of Sur in the Kurdish-majority Diyarbakır (Amed) province, and a young man who was killed in clashes in the neighbourhood and whose remains were not delivered to his family for seven years.
Evidence against Gök included his payment slips from Mezopotamya Agency, which continues to operate legally in Turkey, and a witness statement that Gök was “seen headed to the premises of Pel Production”, a media and cinema production company that Turkey also accuses of terrorist activity.
Gök is accused of producing propaganda for the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), evidence for which includes his documentary film about the Islamic State (ISIS) attacks against the Syrian Kurdish town Kobane.
Another story Gök covered that is included in the indictment is a letter to then-Justice Minister Abdulhamit Gül by Ahmet Kısa, whose 70 year-old mother was arrested solely based on secret witness testimony despite being the only caregiver for her two disabled adult children.