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3 journalists released after 3 days in police custody in eastern Turkey

Photo (the Dicle Fırat Journalists Association)

Three journalists who were detained in the eastern province of Van following raids on their houses earlier this week have been released from detention, the Dicle Fırat Journalists Association announced.

Journalists Arif Aslan, Oktay Candemir and Lokman Gezgin had been held in police custody at the Van police station since Tuesday.

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 faced accusations of financing terrorism as part of an investigation conducted by the Ankara Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office. A gag order was imposed on the investigation, with more details unavailable.

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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