A Turkish court in Diyarbakır (Amed) ordered to remand in custody a total of 16 out of 21 Kurdish journalists who were arrested on 8 June in prison to await trial behind bars, Mezopotamya Agency reported.
Processing continued throughout Wednesday and the court’s decision came late into the night.
Two of the journalists, Jin News editor Safiye Alagaş and Mezopotamya Agency editor Aziz Oruç, were referred for trial earlier in the day, with the prosecutor demanding that they be remanded in custody. Both Alagaş and Oruç are among the journalists who were eventually sent to prison.
Others who will await trial in prison over terrorism charges include Dicle Fırat Journalists’ Association (DFG) co-chair Serdar Altan and Xwebûn newspaper editor-in-chief Mehmet Ali Ertaş. Journalists Zeynel Abidin Bulut, Ömer Çelik, Mazlum Doğan Güler, İbrahim Koyuncu, Neşe Toprak, Elif Üngür, Abdurrahman Öncü, Suat Doğuhan, Remziye Temel, Ramazan Geciken, Lezgin Akdeniz and Mehmet Şahin were also sent to prison.
The court ruled to release five journalists, Esmer Tunç, Mehmet Yalçın, Kadir Bayram, Feynaz Koçuk and İhsan Ergülen, on judicial control. Jin News editor Gülşen Koçu was released without judicial control earlier in the day.
Ahead of his imprisonment, on Tuesday, Dicle Fırat Journalists’ Association’s Altan had told reporters that the authorities had been “trying to fabricate evidence”.
“If you keep us for 80 days you will find nothing but journalistic activity,” Altan said. “We are journalists. We have done nothing outside of journalistic activity, and we have committed no crimes. We demand our immediate release.”
The journalists were “only questioned about their professional activities which were criminalised”, without being told what they were accused of for eight days, the Media and Law Studies Association said.
Turkey’s public broadcaster TRT announced on the day of the arrests, ahead of lawyers receiving any information, that the journalists were charged with terrorism offences over audio visual material produced for Europe-based Kurdish-focused television networks.
Trade unions federation DİSK condemned the imprisonment of the journalists, saying, “Journalists will not forgive, will not forget this unlawfulness. We believe in the power of truth. We will uphold the people’s right to be informed even if we are the last ones to do so. We are right, journalists are right, journalism will prevail!”
Etkin News Agency (ETHA) editor Pınar Gayıp also condemned the imprisonments.
“Sixteen colleagues were sent to prison in the middle of the night in Diyarbakır. This morning, we found out that journalist İnci Hekimoğlu was arrested. We will not get used to this. Journalism is not a crime, it is an honour,” Gayıp said.
Hekimoğlu, who writes for alternative media outlets including BirGün and Artı Gerçek on social justice issues, women’s rights and Kurdish matters, had shared a call for solidarity with the 21 journalists shortly before her home in the western Izmir province was raided.
The DFG will hold a press statement in the afternoon to condemn the imprisonments.