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Secret witness in journalists’ trial admits they worked on behalf of gov’t in pro-Kurdish media

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A secret witness in the trial of 11 journalists who work for pro-Kurdish news outlets has said they also worked for the pro-Kurdish media, secretly operating on behalf of the Turkish government, the Mezopotamya news agency reported on Wednesday.

Police took 11 journalists into custody in October as part of an investigation conducted by the Ankara Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office. Nine of the journalists work for the Mezopotamya news agency, including its editor-in-chief Diren Yurtsever, several reporters and intern Mehmet Günhan, while the other two are employed by JinNews.

The journalists, who were arrested on Oct. 29 and released from pretrial detention on June 16, are being tried on charges of membership in a terrorist organization.

A secret witness, identified as “K8Ç4B3L1T5,” on Wednesday testified for a second time during the trial at the Ankara 4th High Criminal Court. The witness confessed to working at Mezopotamya and JinNews for some time to conduct activities in the media on behalf of the Justice and Development Party (AKP) government.

The hearing was closely followed by representatives from the Association of Lawyers for Freedom (ÖHD), the Contemporary Lawyers Association (ÇHD), the Human Rights Association (IHD), the Media and Law Studies Association (MLSA), the Punto 24 Independent Journalism Association (P24) and the Turkish Journalists’ Association (TGC).

Zemo Ağgöz, one of the journalists from Mezopotamya whose baby was one and a half months old at the time of her detention, said the witness testimony was made up of “baseless allegations” due to which she was unable to breastfeed her 45-day-old baby.

Mezopotamya Managing Editor Ferhat Çelik, who was heard as a witness through the SEGBİS (Audio and Video Information System), denied a claim that assignments at the agency were made “based on instructions from a terrorist organization” and said they did not receive instructions from anyone.

Lawyer Hülya Yıldırım requested that all the journalists be exempted from attending the hearings.

According to Mezopotamya, the court decided to keep the defendants under judicial supervision and denied a request for the return of their digital materials.

The trial was adjourned until Oct. 26.

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