A correspondent from public broadcaster Turkish Radio and Television Corporation (TRT) who was suspended from her job in April has been detained in Ankara, her lawyer announced.
Lawyer Hüseyin Ersöz announced on the X social media platform that a detention warrant was issued for his client, journalist Elif Akkuş, who was later detained in Ankara on Monday evening.
TRT Haber Muhabiri Elif Akkuş, az önce Ankara’da gözaltına alındı. İstanbul’daki evinde akşam saatlerinde arama yapılan, ancak Ankara’da bulunduğundan, hakkındaki Yakalama Kararı uygulanamayan ve telefonla Asayiş Şube Müdürlüğü’ne çağrılan @reporterefo, emniyete giderek teslim… https://t.co/0zDmKNIlNB
— Hüseyin Ersöz (@ersozhuseyin) October 16, 2023
Ersöz said Akkuş could have gone to testify if she had been summoned by the prosecutors, saying there were no legal grounds to detain her.
It was not clear why Akkuş was taken into custody.
Police searched the journalist’s apartment in İstanbul, but she was detained by the Ankara police since she was there on the day the warrant was issued.
Ersöz said there were also several efforts to hack Akkuş’s X account during the day on Monday.
Akkuş, who had worked for TRT for 25 years during which she reported from war zones, was suspended from her job at the station in April without being provided any reason. Following her suspension, she was not even allowed to enter the TRT building. She took her suspension to court.
She attracted widespread criticism due to one of her reports for TRT News in November 2022 for which she visited Sincan Prison in Ankara and talked to women there who were accompanied by their children. The report gave the perception that the prison administration provided everything needed by the children and their mothers and created a “home-like” atmosphere.
Many said Akkuş’s report was aimed at covering up the widespread rights violations in Turkey’s prisons and creating a rosy picture about the dire circumstances the children who accompany their jailed mothers are living in.
TRT, which is funded by taxpayers’ money, is accused of being the mouthpiece of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) government. Opposition parties or journalists and opinion leaders with critical views about the government find little or no coverage at the station.
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.