Nineteen journalists were detained in police raids on their homes in southeastern Diyarbakır province early on Wednesday due to “preparing programs for television channels broadcasting from abroad,” according to a report by the Mezopotamya news agency (MA).
Among the detainees were Serdar Altan, co-chair of Dicle Fırat Journalists’ Association (DFG); Jin News director Safiye Alağaş; Jin News editor Gülşen Koçuk; and Mezopotamya editor Aziz Oruç in addition to journalists Ömer Çelik, Suat Doğuhan, Ramazan Geciken, Berivan Karatorak, Esmer Tunç, Neşe Toprak, Zeynel Abidin Bulut, Mazlum Doğan Güler, Mehmet Şahin, Elif Üngür, İbrahim Koyuncu and Remziye Temel, Mezopotamya said.
Police officers also seized mobile phones and computers belonging to the journalists during the raids.
The state-run Anadolu news agency said in a report on Wednesday that the detentions were carried out after the examination of 82 hours of content from 102 programs of television channels broadcasting from Belgium and England.
According to Mezopotamya, although lawyer Resul Temur talked to the prosecutor overseeing the operation in order to meet with the journalists and get further information about the detention order, the prosecutor refused to share the details of the investigation with him, stating that the operation was still ongoing.
It is common for journalists in Turkey, which has a poor record on freedom of the press, to face threats, physical attacks and legal harassment due to their work.
Rights groups routinely accuse the Turkish government of trying to keep the press under control by imprisoning journalists, eliminating media outlets, overseeing the purchase of media brands by pro-government conglomerates and using regulatory authorities to exert financial pressure, especially since President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan survived a failed coup in July 2016.
Turkey, which is among the top jailers of journalists in the world, was ranked 149th among 180 countries in the Reporters Without Borders (RSF) 2022 World Press Freedom Index, released in early May.