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Court dismisses objection to arrest of 16 Kurdish journalists in SE Turkey

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A Diyarbakır court has dismissed an objection to the arrest of 16 journalists on charges of membership in a terrorist organization, saying their continuing detention was commensurate with the crime alleged, the Mezopotamya news agency reported on Saturday.

Turkish authorities arrested 16 journalists, including the Dicle Fırat Journalists’ Association (DFG) co-chair Serdar Altan, Mezopotamya news agency (MA) Editor-in-Chief Aziz Oruç and JinNews News Director Safiye Alagaş, on June 16, after they had been detained in the southeastern province of Diyarbakır on June 8, in a move that sparked outrage among opposition politicians, press members and rights activists.

According to Mezopotamya, the Diyarbakır 5th Criminal Court of First Instance ruled on an objection to the journalists’ arrest that was filed on June 22. The court dismissed the objection, saying the journalists’ continued detention was commensurate with the crime alleged and “in line with procedure and the law.”

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 after 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.

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