Police are seen in Istanbul, Turkey, on April 26, 2021. Police recently assaulted and detained journalists working for pro-Kurdish outlets in Istanbul. (Reuters/Murad Sezer)

Turkish police harass, detain 2 journalists covering terrorism case

On April 26, 2021, police interrupted a press conference in Istanbul, Turkey, and detained two journalists, according to news reports and video of the detentions shared on social media.

Police detained Muhammed Enes Sezgin, a reporter with the pro-Kurdish Mezopotamya News Agency, and Bilal Meyveci, a camera operator with the leftist pro-Kurdish website and TV broadcaster Artı Gerçek, while they attempted to cover a conference by the pro-Kurdish People’s Democratic Party to discuss an ongoing terrorism trial, according to those reports and Mezopotamya editor Ferhat Çelik, who spoke to CPJ via messaging app.

Police surrounded the building where the party’s conference was being held, and shoved Meyveci and hit and shoved Sezgin, tearing his clothes, Çelik told CPJ. Both Meyveci and Sezgin’s cameras were damaged in the scuffle, according to Çelik and the video of the detentions, in which Meyveci can be heard saying that a police officer broke his camera.

Police held Sezgin and Meyveci for about five hours, took statements from each of them, and released them without charge, according to a report by the Mezopotamya News Agency.

Separately on April 26, in Ankara, police blocked Mezopotamya News Agency reporters Diren Yurtsever and Selman Güzelyüz from covering that trial, and forced them to leave the area, according to Celik and a report by their employer. That report said that officers told the reporters they were specifically ordered to not let Mezopotamya journalists cover the trial.

Çelik said that Sezgin filed a criminal complaint against the police officers over his assault and the damage to his camera; he added that Mezopotamya did not file a complaint about the Ankara incident because they had filed “dozens of such complaints” in the past and received no responses.

CPJ emailed the Istanbul and Ankara police forces for comment, but did not receive any replies.