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.
Pekgöz, an editor, was being held at Kocaeli F Type High Security Closed Prison No. 2 on the charge of leading an armed terrorist organization, the KCK, according to the Justice Ministry’s updated list. Citing passport records and the statements of confidential witnesses, the government alleged that he participated in two KCK committee meetings in Iraq and that he met with KCK leader Murat Karayılan. Pekgöz said he met with Karayılan for journalistic purposes and denied the government’s allegations. Authorities, who tapped Pekgöz’s phone conversations, accused the editor of following KCK directives and relaying the organization’s orders to other journalists. The indictment said Pekgöz directed a pro-KCK agenda when he served as news editor for Günlük, the daily now known as Özgür Gündem. The indictment cited as evidence a phone conversation between Pekgöz and columnist Veysi Sarısözen concerning potential column topics, and Pekgöz’s efforts to recruit a writer to discuss the potential unification of socialist and leftist parties. The indictment said convicted PKK leader Öcalan supported the unification of the parties.
In most cases, the journalists faced up to 15 years in prison if convicted. Their trial was ongoing in late 2013.