Turkish police arrest Mezopotamya News Agency journalist Mehmet Aslan

A police car is seen at a court in Istanbul, Turkey, on December 18, 2020. Police recently arrested journalist Mehmet Aslan in Istanbul and transferred him to Antalya. (AFP/Ozan Kose)

Istanbul, January 5, 2021 – Turkish authorities should immediately release journalist Mehmet Aslan and cease harassing staffers of the Mezopotamya News Agency, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today. 

Today, police in Istanbul arrested Aslan, a reporter for the pro-Kurdish Mezopotamya News Agency, after raiding his home, and then transferred him to the southern city of Antalya, according to news reports and his employer.

Those reports said that Aslan was detained as part of an investigation by the Antalya public prosecutor’s office, but did not specify the nature of that investigation or whether any charges had been filed in his case.

“Turkish authorities must release journalist Mehmet Aslan immediately, and refrain from arresting members of the press in relation to vague and unspecified investigations,” said Gulnoza Said, CPJ’s Europe and Central Asia program coordinator, in New York. “Journalists working for the Mezopotamya News Agency must be allowed to do their jobs without continuous harassment and reprisal from authorities.”

During the 1.5-hour police raid of Aslan’s home, officers confiscated books and magazines as well as unspecified “digital materials,” according to those news reports.

Since October 2020, Turkish authorities have arrested at least three other employees of the Mezopotamya News Agency, according to CPJ research.

In his recent articles for the Mezopotamya News Agency, Aslan has covered topics including the rights of Kurdish prisoners in Turkey, as well as prisoner hunger strikes and torture allegations.

CPJ emailed the office of the Antalya public prosecutor for comment, but did not receive any reply.

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