Kenan Kırkaya

Beats Covered:
Local or Foreign:

At least seven editors and reporters with the Dicle News Agency, or DİHA, who were arrested as part of a massive roundup of journalists associated with pro-Kurdish news outlets in December 2011, remained in prison on December 1, 2013, when CPJ conducted its global prison census. Authorities said the sweep was related to their investigation into the banned Union of Communities in Kurdistan, or KCK, of which the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) is part. According to the indictment, all of the main pro-Kurdish media and news agencies in Turkey are directed by the KCK.

Kırkaya, DİHA’s Ankara representative, was being held at Kocaeli F Type High Security Closed Prison No. 1 in Kocaeli province on charges of being a member of an armed terrorist organization, the KCK, and attempting to change the constitutional order by force, according to the Justice Ministry’s updated list. Authorities cited the statements of two confidential witnesses as evidence. The government also cited as evidence news reports by Kırkaya, including pieces about PKK militia allegedly killed by chemical weapons, articles addressing the Kurdish issue, and stories critical of the government. Calling Kırkaya a “so-called journalist” who worked under orders from convicted PKK leader Abdullah Öcalan, the indictment alleged that his reporting had furthered the aims of the KCK and had sought to manipulate public opinion. Kırkaya told authorities he had no connection to the KCK.

In most cases, the journalists faced up to 15 years in prison if convicted. Their trial was ongoing in late 2013.