Istanbul, March 4, 2020 — Turkish authorities should immediately release journalists Barış Terkoğlu and Hülya Kılınç and drop any charges against them, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today.
Earlier today, police in Istanbul arrested Terkoğlu, news editor of the opposition news website Odatv, and police in Manisa arrested Kılınç, a reporter at the website, according to a report by Odatv. Both journalists were accused of violating state intelligence laws by revealing the identity of a Turkish National Intelligence Organization operative in a story published by Odatv yesterday, according to that report. The story alleged that the intelligence officer was killed in Libya last month.
According to Odatv, authorities charged Terkoğlu with three counts of illegally obtaining and disseminating documents relating to intelligence activities. If convicted, he could face up to nine years in prison, according to Turkey’s intelligence laws.
Kılınç was transferred from Manisa, in Turkey’s west, to Istanbul for questioning this evening, according to Odatv. CPJ could not determine whether she has been charged.
The officer’s name was previously mentioned by Ümit Özdağ, a member of parliament in the opposition İYİ Party, in a press conference on February 26. The officer’s name was also mentioned in reports in other news outlets on February 24 and February 26.
“The detentions of Odatv journalists Barış Terkoğlu and Hülya Kılınç are absurd, and they should be released immediately and all charges should be dropped,” said Gulnoza Said, CPJ’s Europe and Central Asia program coordinator, in New York. “Reporting on matters of public interest should not land journalists in jail, especially if that information is already in the public domain.”
The Odatv story identified the intelligence officer by his first name and the initial of the last name, and said that he had been buried in his hometown of Manisa. The report featured photos of the officer and his funeral.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan confirmed on February 25 that “a few” Turkish military personnel had died in Libya, but did not release their names, according to news reports.
Turkey’s Ministry of Interior did not immediately respond to CPJ’s emailed request for comment.