Ümmü Habibe Eren, a reporter for the pro-Kurdish outlet JINNEWS, was one of 10 journalists detained for alleged terrorist links in various Turkish cities in October 2022. Eren was apprehended in the southeastern city of Diyarbakır and transferred to Sincan prison in Ankara. The reason for the mass arrest remains unclear, but lawyers representing the journalists told CPJ that all of them have denied any connection with a terrorist group.
JINNEWS is an all-female news outlet that supports the political and cultural rights of ethnic Kurds in Turkey. Turkish authorities associate it with the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), an armed group that has clashed with Turkey over Kurdish independence and frequently harass its employees.
On October 25, police simultaneously raided several homes and one newsroom in the cities of Ankara, Diyarbakır, Istanbul, Mardin, Urfa, and Van as part of an investigation led by the Ankara chief prosecutor’s office, arresting 10 journalists perceived as pro-Kurdish. One, Zemo Ağgöz, was released the next day on house arrest to care for her newborn baby.
The remaining detainees were questioned on suspicion of “being a member of a [terrorist] organization,” and about their journalistic activities, though they have not been officially charged, according to news reports. Eren was asked about live appearances she has made for news bulletins and whether she takes orders from the PKK. Prosecutors also asked her about small financial transactions with colleagues and friends and books on Kurdish issues that they confiscated from her house in Diyarbakır, according to documents provided to CPJ by her lawyer. Prosecutors also asked her about an anonymous witness testimony saying she was involved with terrorist activities, which she denied.
Mezopotamya News Agency reported that police officers manhandled and threatened the journalists, handcuffing them for up to 15 hours during the transfer to Ankara and refusing to provide a medical assessment to confirm that some of them had been injured in custody. Some were kept in solitary confinement or given insufficient water, according to MA. Emrullah Acar, an MA reporter among the detainees, told colleagues from prison that Sincan does not provide reading materials in Kurdish, and denied inmates personal letters and healthcare.
CPJ emailed the Turkish Ministry of Justice in November 2022 for comment, but did not receive any reply.