Abdurrahman Gök, a photojournalist and editor for the pro-Kurdish Mezopotamya News Agency, was detained and later formally arrested along with several colleagues in the southeastern Turkish city of Diyarbakır in April 2023. He was on trial for charges of membership in a terrorist organization and propaganda in late 2023.
Mezopotamya News Agency focuses on regional news from eastern Turkey, Kurdish issues, and politics. The news agency has faced retaliatory action from Turkish authorities several times in the past for its reporting, including arresting, charging, and sentencing several journalists in connection to their work.
Gök was taken into custody on April 25, 2023, as part of a large crackdown against Kurdish politicians, activists, and other journalists due to their alleged ties to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which Turkey considers a terrorist organization.
If convicted, Gök faces up to 15 years in prison for membership in a terrorist organization and up to 7.5 years for propaganda, the journalists’ lawyer, Resul Temur, told CPJ. According to CPJ’s review of the indictment, the charges are based on testimony by a witness in exchange for a lighter sentence and Gök’s regular journalistic activities, including phone calls with sources and other journalists, and his stories, which were described as “terrorism.”
The first hearing of Gök’s trial was held in Diyarbakır on September 14, 2023, which CPJ attended. Gök and his lawyers argued in court that the indictment lacked solid evidence and the charges were retaliation for his award-winning report and photos of Turkish police shooting and killing a young man in 2017.
In a separate case, Gök was previously found guilty of producing propaganda for the PKK for the same 2017 report by a Diyarbakır court in June 2022, and sentenced to 18 months and 22 days in prison; he had remained free pending his appeal.
CPJ’s email to the Turkish Ministry of Justice on November 1, 2023, did not receive any reply.