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Owner of news platform on X detained in Ankara

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Gökhan Özbek, a freelance journalist who owns a news platform on X, formerly known as Twitter, and an outspoken critic of Turkey’s post-coup human rights abuses, has been detained.

Özbek announced on X on Monday afternoon that police officers came to his home in Ankara and conducted a search. He said in another tweet that they also had a warrant for his detention.

Özbek’s lawyer, Gizay Dulkadir, said her client was detained due to his social media posts but did not elaborate on which posts had led to the journalist’s detention, according to the 23 Derece news platform.

Özbek is the owner of the popular 23 Derece, which has more than half a million followers on X. The platform and its critical coverage of events and government policies in Turkey makes it a frequent target among pro-government circles.

The journalist is known for his outspoken criticism of rights violations in the aftermath of a coup attempt in 2016 and his support for the victims of such violations.

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 the failed coup in July 2016.

Since the failed coup, when journalists were subjected to mass arrest on bogus coup or terrorism charges, local and international press organizations have released varying figures for the number of journalists jailed in the country.

Some journalists who were arrested in the aftermath of the coup attempt and convicted of terrorism-related charges have been released from prison since serving their sentences.

Turkey is ranked 165th in the Reporters Without Borders (RSF) 2023 World Press Freedom Index, among 180 countries, not far from North Korea, which occupies the bottom of the list.

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