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Turkey detains six more journalists amid heavy crackdown on media

Journalists Ömer Çelik and Metin Yoksu

As a government-led crackdown on critical media outlets in the country continues at full speed, Turkish police teams on Sunday detained six more journalists during simultaneous raids in İstanbul and Diyarbakır.

Pro-Kurdish Dicle news agency (DİHA) news manager Ömer Çelik was detained in Diyarbakır, while DİHA reporter Metin Yoksu and the Birgün daily’s accounting supervisor Mahir Kanaat were taken into custody in İstanbul.

One of the editors of the Diken news portal, Tunca Öğreten, was also among the detainees.

A leading editor of ETHA news agency, Derya Okatan, detained in Ankara later during the day.

According to a news report on the DİHA website, Çelik’s house was raided by dozens of police officers in the early hours of Sunday. The house was turned upside down during the police search, and Çelik was subjected to maltreatment by the police during the raid.

The houses of Etkin News Agency (ETHA) journalists in İstanbul’s Beyoğlu district were also raided, and two computers belonging to the journalists were seized.

DİHA is one of the dozens of media organizations that were closed down by the government by a decree that has the force of law.

The Yolculuk daily’s managing editor, Eray Saygın, was also detained at his house in İstanbul while police teams also raided the offices of the Adalı Publishing House, owned by the Yolculuk daily, in the Okmeydanı neighborhood of İstanbul on Sunday. The hard disks of the computers in the publishing house were taken away by the police.

In the meantime, the Turkish Journalists Union (TGS) released a statement on Sunday in which it condemned the detention of the journalists.

“We have woken up to a morning again with the news of an [police] operation. The target is journalists again,” said the TGS in its statement.

“While bombs are exploding in all corners of Turkey, ISIL [Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant] is killing Turkish soldiers in Syria, we don’t accept an understanding that targets journalists in order to cover up facts. What journalists do is to let the public know the facts. So, we are once again saying ‘Journalism is not a crime.’ We ask for the release of all arrested journalists and those under detention,” added the TGS in its statement.

The Turkish government, which declared a state of emergency following a failed coup attempt on July, has closed down more than 100 media outlets including the country’s best-selling newspaper Zaman by issuing controversial decrees.

There are also 145 journalists in Turkey’s prisons.

PEN International, a worldwide association of writers, earlier this month released the names of 145 journalists who were jailed by the Turkish government after the  failed coup attempt on July 15.

According to the association, they managed to gather the list by cross-referencing the various sources available to them at present and will update it as more news emerges. The list only includes journalists and writers, not businessmen or those with financial interests in the media.

One hundred forty-nine journalists are behind bars, of whom four are currently detained without having been charged. Out of the remaining 145 journalists, 114 have been charged since the coup attempt; 31 were charged before the attempt; and 76 journalists were briefly arrested/detained after the coup attempt and have been released.

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