Dicle Müftüoğlu, an editor for the pro-Kurdish Mezopotamya News Agency and co-chair of the local media advocacy group Dicle Fırat Journalists Association, was detained by police alongside fellow journalist Sedat Yılmaz in the southeastern Turkish city of Diyarbakır in late April 2023.
Müftüoğlu, who was not brought to court and was heard from the prison in Ankara via teleconference, told the court that the evidence brought against her in the indictment is based on her journalistic activities and daily life.
Lawyer Resul Temur told the court that the open witness who has testified against her client is an unreliable former PKK member who has testified against dozens of people, and the secret witness in the indictment is a civil servant by his own admission, which makes the testimony inadmissible.
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.
Police detained Müftüoğlu and Yılmaz in Diyarbakır on April 29, 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.
Müftüoğlu and Yılmaz were charged with being both a member and a leader of a terrorist organization, according to the journalists’ lawyer, Resul Temur. The lawyer told CPJ that the charges are conflicting in a legal sense, and he expects the court to drop one.
CPJ’s review of the 44-page indictment presented by the chief public prosecutor’s office on September 6, revealed a document that primarily focused on the structure of the PKK and a case dependent on four state witnesses, three of whom were anonymous. Outside of the first page, the indictment did not mention the journalist again until page 41, where it listed Müftüoğlu’s travel, financial transactions, and logs of phone calls with other journalists, politicians, and human rights activities as evidence.
Temur told CPJ that the evidence against Müftüoğlu and Yılmaz was “not solid” and included “unfounded claims” that their media outlets were “terrorism tools.”
The journalists face up to 15 years in prison if found guilty under Turkey’s anti-terrorism laws.
In June 2022, police detained Müftüoğlu for three days.
Müftüoğlu is being held in Ankara and is in good health but has to be taken to the hospital routinely due to health complications from a 2012 car crash, Temur told CPJ in November 2023.
CPJ’s email to the Turkish Ministry of Justice on November 1, 2023, did not receive any reply.