(Story updates with developments in paragraph 10)
Two out of the 21 Kurdish journalists who were arrested last week have been referred for trial, with the prosecutor demanding that they be remanded in custody.
Safiye Alagaş and Aziz Oruç, director of the all-female agency Jin News and editor of Mezopotamya Agency respectively, were referred to court after questioning by the prosecution, Jin News reported.
The remaining editors, reporters and media workers are still being questioned by the prosecution, after eight days in police custody.
The 21 journalists were arrested on 8 June, in what state-run media announced was a terrorism-related operation. The journalists’ lawyers were not notified of the reason for the arrests until later.
Journalists awaiting the court’s decision include Dicle Fırat Journalists’ Association (DFG) co-chair Serdar Altan, Xwebûn newspaper editor-in-chief Mehmet Ali Ertaş, Jin News editor Gülşen Koçuk, journalists Ömer Çelik, Suat Doğuhan, Ramazan Geciken, Esmer Tunç, Neşe Toprak, Zeynel Abidin Bulut, Mazlum Doğan Güler, Mehmet Şahin, Elif Üngür, İbrahim Koyuncu, Remziye Temel, Mehmet Yalçın, Abdurrahman Öncü, Lezgin Akdeniz and Kadir Bayram.
As the prosecution continues its interrogation of the remaining detainees, other journalists held a demonstration in a nearby district condemning the treatment their colleagues had been subjected to for the previous eight days. Etkin News Agency (ETHA) editor Pınar Gayıp said:
“All oppressive regimes target the free media first, and today the government wants to stifle the free media and prevent the people accessing their right to accurate news, waging war on journalists to this end.
“Journalism is not a crime. We stand by our colleagues, we will continue to work as journalists. The powers that be target Kurds and the Kurdish media whenever they are under pressure. In spite of the state’s tradition of aggression, the Kurdish media and its tradition of resistance continue to publish the truth.
“Despite all the attacks, Jin News will continue to be the voice for all women.”
Later in the day, the prosecutor referred to court with a demand for their remand in custody six more journalists, Xwebûn Newspaper Editor-in-Chief Mehmet Ali Ertaş and journalists Elif Üngür, Mehmet Şahin, Neşe Toprak, Esmer Tunç and Ömer Çelik. Jin News editor Gülşen Koçu was released.