A Kurdish journalist who has been the subject of frequent judicial harassment since he photographed the killing of a Kurdish university student by a police officer in 2017 has not been released from prison after five months in pretrial detention, the Punto24 news website reported.
The first hearing in the trial of journalist Abdurrahman Gök, an editor at the Mezopotamya news agency, was held at the Diyarbakır 5th Criminal Court on Thursday. Gök is facing charges of membership in a terrorist organization and disseminating terrorist propaganda for the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey and much of the international community.
The journalist said in his defense that the real motivation behind the trial is to punish him for taking photos of Kurdish youth Kemal Kurkut as he was confronted and killed by a police officer during Nevruz celebrations in Diyarbakır in 2017.
The journalist faced several investigations, stood trial and was given a one-and-a-half year sentence on charges of “disseminating terrorist propaganda,” due to the photos, which he refused to give to the police following the murder.
Gök, who shot photos of Kurkut’s confrontation with and killing by police minute by minute, submitted the photos to the Diyarbakır Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office. The photos, which total of 28 in number, clearly rule out the possibility of Kurkut being a suicide bomber. Gök also testified to the prosecutors as a witness.
Police found poetry books and clothes in Kurkut’s backpack after he was shot on suspicion that he was a suicide bomber.
The court ruled for the continuation of Gök’s imprisonment during Thursday’s hearing, rejecting his lawyers’ request for his release. He has been behind bars since April 25.
The court adjourned the trial until Dec. 5.
Gök was among four journalists who were detained along with more than 100 activists, lawyers and politicians in a mass operation targeting Kurds across Turkey in late April shortly before the country held presidential and parliamentary elections. The other three journalists were also arrested.
The operations were seen as an attempt by the Justice and Development Party (AKP) government to silence the Kurdish media before the critical elections, which resulted in the success of the AKP and President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.