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3 journalists detained in home raids in eastern Turkey

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Turkish police on Tuesday morning detained three journalists in the eastern province of Van following raids on their houses, the Mezopotamya news agency reported.

Journalists Arif Aslan, Oktay Candemir and Lokman Gezgin were taken to the Van police station. The reason for their detention is not yet clear.

Aslan is a reporter for the Voice of America’s Kurdish service; Candemir writes for Haber Çaldıran, a news website based in Van’s Çaldıran district; and Gezgin is a local journalist.

The journalists’ lawyer, Cahit Durmaz, said, following a meeting with his clients, that a gag order has been imposed on the investigation and the journalists are expected to testify to a prosecutor either on Wednesday or Thursday. He said they were detained as part of an Ankara-based investigation, without giving any details about the charges they face.

Kurdish journalists or those working for pro-Kurdish media outlets in Turkey frequently face legal harassment, stand trial and are sentenced to prison for covering issues related to Kurds and the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (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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