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Turkish police raid pro-Kurdish news outlets, detain 11 journalists

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Turkish police on Tuesday searched the premises of several pro-Kurdish media outlets and raided journalists’ houses in İstanbul and other cities including in the Kurdish-majority Southeast — a move blasted by rights advocates as censorship, Agence France-Presse reported.

Police rounded up 11 journalists in İstanbul and Ankara as well as other cities including in Diyarbakır in the Southeast, the Turkish Journalists Union (TGS) tweeted, without providing any reason for the detentions.

Seven of the detained journalists work for the pro-Kurdish Mezopotamya news agency and three for JINNEWS, according to the union.

Mezopotamya confirmed the arrest of its journalists including editor-in-chief Diren Yurtsever.

Turkey’s parliament this month approved a tough pre-election law that could see reporters and social media users jailed for up to three years for spreading “fake news.”

The new measures for the media come before a general election that President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan enters trailing in the polls.

“At a time when the censorship law had just come into effect, many journalists’ homes were raided and the journalists were detained during the dawn operations,” the TGS said.

Opposition parties and journalists’ unions protested the new rules before and during the debates in the parliament.

Most Turkish newspapers and television channels fell under the control of government officials and their business allies during a sweeping crackdown that followed a failed coup in 2016.

But social networks and internet-based media remained largely free of oversight — much to the growing annoyance of Erdoğan.

Turkey is ranked 149th out of 180 countries in the annual media freedom index published by Reporters Without Borders (RSF) earlier this year.

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