Şerife Oruç

Beats Covered:
Local or Foreign:

Police detained Oruç, a reporter for the pro-Kurdish Dicle News Agency (DİHA), on July 4, 2016, while she was traveling in a car with her cousin and a driver who had picked them up while they were hitchhiking between the southeastern provinces of Diyarbakır and Batman, according to news reports citing DİHA. The reports said the three were detained on suspicion of “aiding a [terrorist] organization.”

After all three were questioned by a prosecutor, Batman’s Second Court of Penal Peace ordered Oruç and her companions jailed, pending trial on suspicion of “being a member of a [terrorist] organization,” according to press reports. Oruç, who denied the charges in court, was sent to Batman prison pending trial, according to news reports. DİHA reported that Oruç was on her way to cover a news story in Batman at the time of her arrest.

CPJ reviewed the records of Oruç’s interrogation by a prosecutor, and the court’s order to jail her pending trial. The journalist denied accusations of being a fighter for the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which Turkey classes as a terrorist organization, and said she had never fired a gun. She told the prosecutor she had been in Diyarbakır for newsgathering purposes, and that she had not been close to fighting there. She denied the police report’s claim that she had tried to run from them.

According to the record of her arraignment hearing, Oruç’s lawyer, Mesut Aydın, argued that the police reports about her arrest and those of her companions were conflicting: For example, he said, one report said the three tried to run in different directions; another said they had been apprehended after a car chase.

Oruç’s trial began in the southeastern Turkish city of Batman on July 27, 2017, the news website Gazete Sujin reported. She attended the hearing via videoconference from prison in Mardin.

“My client is a reporter and journalist,” Aydın told Batman’s Second Court for Serious Crimes, according to Gazete Sujin. “It is impossible to avoid becoming a target if you work for a dissident [news] agency. My client has become a target for working at DİHA.”

The court refused her request to be released pending the conclusion of her trial, Gazete Sujin reported. Oruç’s cousin and the driver of the car are also in custody for the duration of the trial, the report said.

The next hearing was scheduled to take place on January 11, 2018, Gazete Karınca reported.