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4 journalists detained in western Turkey put under house arrest

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Four of six journalists who were detained in western Turkey last week have been put under house arrest, while the other two have been released from police custody under judicial supervision, the Gazete Duvar news website reported.

The six journalists, most of whom work for pro-Kurdish media outlets, were detained in simultaneous raids in İzmir on charges of membership the terrorist Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) due to their reports and meetings with news sources as well as the statements of a witness.

After they were held in police custody for four days, Gazete Duvar reporter Cihan Başakçıoğlu, Mezopotamya news agency (MA) reporters Semra Turan, Delal Akyüz and Tolga Güney, JINNEWS reporter Melike Aydın and pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Equality and Democracy Party (DEM Party) press worker Fatma Funda Akbulut were referred to court for arrest on Friday morning.

The court decided to place Güney, Aydın, Akyüz and Akbulut under house arrest while also imposing a travel ban on them. Başakçıoğlu and Turan were also subjected to a travel ban in addition to the condition that they check in at a police station twice a week.

Kurdish journalists in Turkey frequently face legal harassment, stand trial and are sentenced to prison for covering issues related to Kurds and the PKK, which has been waging a bloody campaign in Turkey’s southeast since 1984 and is listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey and much of the international community.

Rights groups routinely accuse Turkey of undermining media freedom by arresting journalists and shutting down critical media outlets, especially since President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan survived a failed coup in July 2016.

Turkey is ranked 165th in the Reporters Without Borders (RSF) 2023 World Press Freedom Index, among 180 countries, not far from North Korea, which occupies the bottom of the list.

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