Kemal Sancılı

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Authorities on May 9, 2018, detained Kemal Sancılı, former publisher of the shuttered pro-Kurdish daily Özgür Gündem, in the İpsala district of the western province of Edirne, according to news reports. Police questioned Sancılı for two days, before a court ordered him to be sent to Silivri Prison in Istanbul pending trial, the pro-Kurdish Mezopotamya News Agency reported.

Sancılı is one of nine journalists and staff at the paper currently on trial, according to reports. He is charged with "disrupting the unity of the state and the integrity of the nation," "being a member of an armed terrorist organization," and "making propaganda for a [terrorist] organization," according to indictments and court documents viewed by CPJ.

A court on October 10, 2018, denied Sancılı’s plea for release pending trial and scheduled the next hearing for January 17, 2019, reports said. CPJ documented how he was taken into custody on January 3, 2017 as part of the same investigation, before being released pending trial on October 31, 2017.

According to documents, including the indictment, the prosecutor alleged that Özgür Gündem is a propaganda outlet of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK). Turkey considers the PKK to be a terrorist organization and CPJ has found that news outlets deemed to be sympathetic to  or pro-PKK can face charges of terrorism and separatism.