Mehmet Emin Yıldırım

Beats Covered:
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A court in Diyarbakır ordered Yıldırım, editor-in-chief of the Kurdish-language daily Azadiya Welat, to be held as part of an investigation into the Union of Communities in Kurdistan, or KCK, of which the banned Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) is part. Authorities alleged that the KCK directs all of the main pro-Kurdish media and news agencies in Turkey.

Yıldırım was being held in Kocaeli F Type High Security Closed Prison No. 1 in Kocaeli province on charges of being a member of an armed terrorist organization, the PKK, and producing propaganda in favor of that organization, according to an updated list of imprisoned journalists provided by the Justice Ministry in November 2013 at CPJ’s request.

As evidence, authorities cited conversations in which Yıldırım relayed information to the pro-PKK satellite station Roj TV. The indictment also faulted Yildirim’s news coverage for being critical of police operations against the KCK, insulting the government, and provoking Kurds to oppose the state. Authorities claimed notes and email traffic showed that Yıldırım executed orders from the KCK. For example, a list of toiletries and other items-shaving blades, a tube of toothpaste, a toothbrush, a digital radio, and batteries-was cited as evidence that Yıldırim was providing supplies to the PKK.

Authorities would not allow Yıldırım to give a statement in his native Kurdish, which his defense lawyer, Özcan Kılıç, said was a violation of a defendant’s rights but one common in political cases. “They bring in a translator for cases such as narcotics trafficking, but they do not for these cases,” he said.

Another chief editor of Azadiya Welat-Tayip Temel-was also imprisoned on similar charges. Yıldırım’s trial was ongoing at Istanbul’s Fifteenth Court of Serious Crimes at Silivri Prison in late 2013.