Docket full with cases as more journalists arrested
The protests against the arrest of journalist in an alleged terrorism case continue as new separate trials are expected today in which more journalist are being tried.Four crucial court hearings are scheduled to proceed today including the Kurdistan Communities Union (KCK) case, following the arrests of 35 people, including journalists, this weekend as part of a probe into press members suspected of colluding with Kurdish militants.
A court in Diyarbakır is set to hear a KCK case against 104 arrested Kurdish politicians, while Istanbul’s three specially authorized criminal courts are scheduled to continue three crucial hearings today.
The first case in Istanbul covers the murder of Turkish-Armenian journalist Hrant Dink. The case will proceed with its 23rd hearing at the Istanbul Courthouse in the Beşiktaş district. Dink, who was the editor-in-chief of the bilingual weekly Agos, was shot in front of his newspaper’s office in Istanbul’s Şişli district on Jan. 19, 2007.
The Çağlayan Courthouse will also hear the Oda TV case today. Journalists and writers Soner Yalçın, Nedim Şener, Ahmet Şık, and Yalçın Küçük are among the defendants in the case, in which Şık’s manuscript “The Imam’s Army” (İmamın Ordusu) is allegedly said to be “a book prepared with other suspects as instructions and guidelines for the Ergenekon Armed Terrorist Organization.”
There will also be a hearing in Istanbul in the “Balyoz” (Sledgehammer) case. The case covers an alleged military coup plot against the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) allegedly set up in 2003.
Meanwhile, 35 people, including a number of journalists, have been arrested as part of a probe into a number of members of the press suspected of colluding with Kurdish militants.
On Dec. 20, police detained 48 people, including several journalists, as part of a growing investigation into a group prosecutors accuse of having links to the Kurdistan Communities Union, the alleged urban wing of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).
Agence France-Presse photographer Mustafa Özer and journalists for Kurdish media organizations were among the detained.
Seven people, including Özer, were released Dec. 23, three days after they were detained. The 41 who remained detained were then sent to the court by the prosecutor, who requested Dec. 24 that 35 of them be arrested.
The Progressive Journalists Association (ÇGD) said that, as journalists, “they are embarrassed to live in a country where journalists are arrested just because of their profession and to live in a country where the number of journalists in prison has reached 99.”
The 35 were arrested simply because they are dissident journalists, the ÇGD said. “We are embarrassed to live in a country where government authorities dare to say that arrested journalists are ‘terrorists, not journalists.’”
Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) deputy Mülkiye Birtane also condemned the arrests. “The latest arrest of journalists has destroyed the understanding of press freedom and inflicted a heavy blow on the people’s right to reach information,” she said.
Since 2009, 700 people have been arrested for alleged links with the militants, according to the government, but the BDP, which is mainly focused on the Kurdish issue, puts the figure at more than 3,500.
Around 70 journalists and intellectuals have also been arrested recently on various charges, including links with the Kurdish militants, provoking criticism of the Turkish authorities at home and abroad.
The PKK is listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the United States and the European Union.
* Compiled from Doğan news agency and Anatolian news agency news stories.