In Turkey, journalist freed from prison pending trial

A court in the city of Adana released Özlem Ağuş, reporter for the pro-Kurdish Dicle News Agency (DİHA), from prison on February 25, 2013, pending a trial, DIHA reported. The journalist was imprisoned on March 6, 2012, on charges that included membership in the banned Union of Communities in Kurdistan, or KCK, which the government designated a terrorist group.

Ağuş faced up to 22 years in prison upon conviction, according to her lawyer, Vedat Özkan. Her trial was scheduled to resume on April 26, 2013. Özkan told CPJ that the charges against his client were baseless and that Ağuş had been targeted because of her affiliation with a news outlet’s coverage of politicized Kurdish issues.

Ağuş had reported on human rights abuses in the country, including the 2011 Pozanti Prison case in which a number of minors, particularly Kurdish children, were sexually abused by prison guards, according to the local press freedom organization BİA and Amnesty International. On March 1, 2012, DİHA published an interview that Ağuş had conducted with a 16-year-old detainee who described being abused by adult prisoners.

Ağuş was included in a special report on Turkey that CPJ released in October. Turkey is the world’s worst jailer of journalists, according to CPJ research. At least 49 journalists were behind bars when CPJ conducted its worldwide prison census on December 1, 2012.