Zemo Ağgöz Yiğitsoy, a reporter for the pro-Kurdish Mezopotamya News Agency (MA), was one of 10 journalists detained for alleged terrorist links in various Turkish cities in October 2022. She was detained in Ankara and remains under house arrest awaiting trial. 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.
Employees of MA, which supports the political and cultural rights of Turkey’s ethnic Kurdish citizens, have been subject to frequent prosecution as the Turkish authorities associate them with the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party or PKK, an armed group that has clashed with Turkey over Kurdish independence for decades. Ağgöz has worked for the agency since 2018 and focuses on gender and legal issues.
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.
Ağgöz, was placed under house arrest the next day to care for her newborn baby. In an interview from her home, Ağgöz told MA police had interrogated her about her sources, articles, and expenses. She is required to wear an ankle monitor and not leave the house, and prosecutors presented her with recordings of tapped phone conversations she had conducted with colleagues and sources about Kurdish issues, as well as her posts on social media, according to documents provided to CPJ by her lawyer.
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.
CPJ emailed the Turkish Ministry of Justice in November 2022 for comment, but did not receive any reply.