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Turkish police have detained ten journalists working for Kurdish media outlets after searching their homes and offices in several provinces of the country on 25 October, according to the daily Birgün.
All of those detained were reporters for the Mezopotamya Kurdish News Agency (MA) and JINNEWS (Kurdish Women’s News Agency), multilingual media outlets focusing on issues related to Turkey’s Kurds.
Can Guleryuzlu, president of the Progressive Journalists Association (CGD), said that the journalists detained in several provinces of the country have not yet been allowed to meet with their lawyers and that the reason for the arrests is still unknown, according to EFE.
“Journalism is not a crime. With these arrests, raids on homes and offices, they are trying to criminalize it. After the censorship law, which came into force a week ago, there are many journalists detained,” Guleryuzlu said.
The leftist pro-Kurdish HDP party also protested the detentions and called for the release of the detainees with a message on Twitter.
Today 10 more journalists arrested. They were held at gunpoint, handcuffed and tortured.
This is an attempt to silence the opposition press and society through new so called ‘disinformation’ law came into force.
There are more than 70 journalists are under arrest in Turkey pic.twitter.com/rqGZCm5Jeg
— HDP Europe (@HDP_Europe) October 25, 2022
“The illegal detentions of MA and JINNEWS reporters show the lawlessness achieved by fascism. We strongly condemn these attacks against free press workers; release the journalists immediately,” they demanded.
Turkey recently passed a so called ”disinformation” law providing prison sentences for spreading false information, which has been widely criticized by press associations and NGOs.
The bill was presented to parliament on Tuesday, 4 October, and could see offenders locked up for three years if they are charged with spreading “disinformation.”
The law introduced by the Justice and Development Party (AKP) would not only affect journalists but social media users as well. It would require social media companies to hand over information on users if suspected of “propagating misleading information.”
The AKP and the far-right Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) hold the majority in parliament and can therefore pass laws without real opposition.
Reporters Without Borders (RSF) ranks Turkey the 154th out of 180 countries when it comes to freedom of the press.
According to the organization, Turkey has imprisoned 200 journalists in the past five years, while 48 journalists spent at least one day in police custody in 2020.
Meanwhile, the organization also reports the forced closure of 160 media outlets, since the country adopted state of emergency measures after the failed coup in 2016.