42 including 3 journalists detained in witch-hunt targeting Afrin critics

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Sinel Hürtaş and Hayri Demir

Turkish police have detained 42 people including three journalists and several politicians as part of investigations into critics of Turkey’s military operation in the Kurdish-controlled Afrin region of Syria, the Diken and Artıgerçek news websites reported.

According to the reports, police on Monday evening detained Artı TV Ankara representatives Sibel Hürtaş and Seda Taşkın and Mezopotamya news agency reporter Hayri Demir over their social media messages for “incitement of hatred and hostility” and “disseminating the propaganda of a terrorist organization.”

Journalist Nurcan Baysal and İshak Karakaş were previously detained as part of the same investigations.

The Turkish Journalists Union (TGS) on Tuesday condemned the detention of journalists Hürtaş, Demir, Taşkın, Karakaş and Baysal for their social media messages.

Police also detained several Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) local representatives during operations on Monday evening in Ankara, Denizli, Manisa, Van, Iğdır, Mersin and Muş provinces.

Turkish public prosecutor’s offices on Sunday had issued detention warrants for 35 people on accusations of disseminating propaganda for the Kurdish-Syrian Democratic Union Party (PYD) and the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) in social media messages concerning the Turkish offensive in Afrin.

The Ankara Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office on Sunday launched an investigation into HDP deputies Ayhan Bilgen and Nadir Yıldırım for “incitement of hatred and hostility” by means of tweets critical of the operation in Afrin.

President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on Sunday had warned the HDP not to take to the streets to protest the operation in Afrin: “You are being closely followed. If you try to take to the streets, know that our security forces will be at your neck.”

“If anyone is in the streets upon calls [from the HDP], they will pay dearly for it. This is a national fight, and whoever opposes us will be crushed.” Erdoğan added.

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