Ömer Çelik

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At least 13 editors, writers, and managers with the Dicle News Agency, or DİHA, were arrested as part of a massive government roundup of journalists associated with pro-Kurdish news outlets. 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.

Çelik, a reporter, was being held at Kocaeli F Type Prison on charges of being a member of the KCK press committee. Authorities faulted Çelik for biased coverage of a university dispute and other news events, labeling his reporting of an earthquake, for example, as “black propaganda.” They also cited as evidence phone conversations in which Çelik received tips about press conferences and other news events, and a conversation in which he relayed information to Roj TV. His coverage of the pro-Kurdish Peace and Democracy Party was in itself considered evidence of a crime. Çelik denied any wrongdoing, telling prosecutors he was not a member of the KCK press committee.

In most cases, the journalists faced up to 15 years in prison upon conviction.