A screen shot of a Mezopotamya Agency video showing a journalist being taken into custody. On October 25, 2022, Turkish police simultaneously raided several homes and one newsroom in multiple Turkish cities. The raids resulted in at least 11 journalists in police custody. (YouTube/Mezopotamya Agency)

At least 11 journalists in custody after police raids in Turkey

Istanbul, October 25, 2022—Turkish authorities should immediately release the Kurdish journalists in police custody and stop harassing them with secret investigations, the Committee to Protect Journalists said on Tuesday.

Early Tuesday morning, Turkish police simultaneously raided several homes and one newsroom in the cities of Ankara, Diyarbakır, Istanbul, Mardin, Urfa, and Van, as part of an investigation of the Ankara chief prosecutor’s office. The raids resulted in at least 11 journalists in police custody, multiple news reports said, detailing a secret investigation.

“Turkish authorities once again deprived several journalists of their freedoms under a court-ordered secret investigation. These journalists behind bars are unaware of what they are accused of, just like the journalists who were arrested in Diyarbakır in June who remain detained and uninformed,” said Gulnoza Said, CPJ’s Europe and Central Asia program coordinator, in New York. “Turkish authorities must immediately release the journalists in custody, return their confiscated property, and stop harassing the Kurdish media in Turkey with baseless charges that typically end up being related to their journalism.”

Diren Yurtsever, news editor for the pro-Kurdish Mezopotamya Agency (MA); MA reporters Emrullah Acar, Zemo Ağgöz, Berivan Altan, Selman Güzelyüz, Deniz Nazlım, Ceylan Şahinli, and Hakan Yalçın; and pro-Kurdish website Jin News reporters Öznur Değer and Habibe Erenare among the journalists in custody, according to those same reports, which said the detainees will be transported from other cities to Ankara. The police confiscated several cameras, computers, and other equipment while detaining the journalists, the reports said.

The 11th journalist in police custody was Mehmet Günhan, a former reporting intern at the MA’s Ankara newsroom, who was apprehended in the western city of Manisa.

The journalists will not be allowed to see a lawyer for 24 hours.

Police raided the MA newsroom in Ankara, entering the office with a lock pick during early morning hours with nobody from the outlet initially present and searched the office for six hours, MA reported. Police confiscated five computers, two hard drives, physical archives of print newspapers, notebooks with journalism notes, and several books.

In an unrelated case, Derya Ren, another reporter from Jin News, was taken from a house in the southeastern city of Diyarbakır by the police and sent to prison on Tuesday, her employer reported. CPJ could not immediately determine if Ren’s case is related to her journalism.

In June, a court in Diyarbakır ordered 15 journalists and a media worker from pro-Kurdish outlets to be held in pretrial custody as part of another secret investigation. These journalists remain jailed without being charged.

CPJ emailed the Ankara chief prosecutor’s office for comment but did not receive any reply.