Istanbul, January 14, 2021 – Turkish authorities must release journalist Pınar Gayıp immediately and return all items confiscated in a recent raid on the Etkin News Agency, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today.
Last night, police raided the Istanbul office of the Etkin News Agency, a news outlet supportive of the Socialist Party of the Oppressed, according to news reports and a report by the outlet. During the raid, police broke the front door of the news agency’s office and searched its premises, seizing camera memory cards, computer hard drives, and 6,600 Turkish lira (US$893) in cash from the office, according to those reports.
Also last night, police arrested Gayıp, a reporter with the agency, at her home in Istanbul, and sought to arrest editor İsminaz Temel, but could not find her, according to the agency’s report.
CPJ could not determine whether authorities have formally filed charges in the case.
“Night raids on newsrooms and journalists’ homes should never happen in a country where press freedom is respected,” said Gulnoza Said, CPJ’s Europe and Central Asia program coordinator, in New York. “Turkish authorities should release journalist Pınar Gayıp immediately, cease harassing the Etkin News Agency, and return all property that was confiscated from its office.”
According to the Etkin News Agency’s report, the police raid was conducted without the presence of any agency staffers or lawyers. The Criminal Procedures Law of Turkey bars authorities from conducting searches without the presence of suspects or their legal representatives.
The raid on the news agency was part of a crackdown last night on pro-Kurdish or socialist groups, deemed “terrorist groups” by authorities, and police detained dozens of suspects, according to news reports.
Temel was imprisoned in 2017 for her work, and was also released pending trial in 2019, as CPJ documented. She was also briefly detained in June 2019, when police raided the Etkin News Agency’s Istanbul office, as CPJ documented at the time.
CPJ emailed the Chief Prosecutor’s Office of Izmir, which is overseeing the crackdown on “terrorist groups,” for comment, but did not immediately receive any reply.