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Editor of Kurdish news agency acquitted of terrorism charges

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A Turkish court has acquitted journalist Sedat Yılmaz, editor of the Mezopotamya news agency, of terrorism charges related to his alleged links to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), the Expression Interrupted platform announced.

Deemed a terrorist organization by Turkey and much of the international community, the PKK has been waging a decades-long war against the state for greater autonomy for the Kurdish minority.

After being detained on charges of “forming, managing and being a member of a terrorist organization,” Yılmaz was arrested on May 3, World Press Freedom Day. He was released pending trial at the first hearing of the his trial held on December 14.

The Diyarbakır 4th High Criminal Court acquitted Yılmaz on Thursday, also lifting a travel ban.

Announcing the development on his X account, Yılmaz thanked everyone who supported him and also urged the release of journalist Dicle Müftüoğlu, co-chairperson of the Dicle Fırat Journalists’ Association, who was arrested the same day as him.

Müftüoğlu was released from pretrial detention by a Diyarbakır court later in the day.

Kurdish journalists or those working for 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 PKK.

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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