A Van court on January 22, 2018, ordered İdris Yılmaz, a former reporter for the shuttered pro-Kurdish Dicle News Agency (DİHA) and an editor and reporter for the local online newspapers Ajans Erbil Haber and Gazete Yaşam, to be jailed pending trial on charges of "making propaganda for a [terrorist] organization," according to his lawyer. While awaiting trial in that case, a court convicted the journalist of slander in a separate trial, and sentenced him to 15 months in prison, the lawyer said.
After he was charged with "making propaganda,” authorities ordered Yılmaz to be sent to Elazığ Prison, about 310 miles (500 km) from the Van region, his lawyer said.
The journalist said he was mistreated in prison, according to reports from February 2018. Yılmaz said he was kept in isolation, that prison authorities did not allow him to buy anything from the prison canteen, including water, and did not allow him to visit a restroom while being transported from the prison to the court.
As of late 2018, the Turkish Embassy in Washington D.C. did not respond to CPJ’s emailed request for comment on claims that jailed journalists are mistreated.
As of September 2018, no indictment has been presented regarding the propaganda charge for which Yılmaz was imprisoned.
In the separate slander case, a court in July 2018 sentenced the journalist to 15 months in prison for “slander via press,” according to reports. The charge relates to a video the journalist published on the Gazete Yaşam website that showed militia groups—formed to assist the military in rural south and southeastern regions—allegedly mistreating a minor, according to reports.
CPJ has previously documented how Yılmaz and a colleague were beaten by people he was investigating for alleged corruption in October 2017. The doctors at a local hospital refused to provide the pair with injury reports, and instead gave the reports to their alleged attackers.
CPJ also documented how Yılmaz was taken into custody in July 2016 and August 2016. The journalists told colleagues after his release in August 2017, that police asked, "Why are you not afraid? Is your salary worth the job you do? Are the journalists recently arrested reason enough for you to be afraid?" and told him and his colleague, "Do not oppose the [ruling] AKP [party]. No opposition has any chance against strong governments. It will be bad for you."
In November 2014, Yılmaz was detained for about three months for “making propaganda for a [terrorist] organization” in social media posts, according to reports.
The journalist is currently in Elazığ Prison, according to his lawyer.