Passports of two Turkish journalists seized by authorities
ISTANBULThe passports of two journalists have been confiscated by police at Istanbul Atatürk Airport in the latest of a string of previously unannounced measures preventing media workers from traveling overseas.
The passports of daily Cumhuriyet columnist Ayşe Yıldırım and duvar.com.tr columnist Celal Başlangıç, who is also Yıldırım’s husband, were seized by Turkish authorities as they were in the queue to fly to Brussels.
“We are being taken to the police headquarters,” wrote Yıldırım on her Twitter account, while adding that they were awaiting notification regarding the cancelation of their passports.
Speaking to T24, Başlangıç said they had not received any information on the reason why their passports were seized and canceled.
Başlangıç appeared on Oct. 4 in front of a judge at Istanbul’s Çağlayan Courthouse on terrorism propaganda charges stemming from his participation in a solidarity campaign with daily Özgür Gündem in which volunteers acted as an “editor-in-chief on duty” for a day.
An Istanbul court had earlier ordered the closure of Özgür Gündem for allegedly conducting propaganda on behalf of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and acting as the media organ of the organization.
Yıldırım’s passport was seized despite the absence of any investigation against her.
Meanwhile, reports claimed that all properties of IMC TV, whose offices were raided and whose transmissions were cut by police on Oct. 4, were transferred to the state-run TRT. Issuing a statement on Oct. 5, TRT ruled out such a move and said the seized property was being kept in an empty depot until the end of the prosecution period.
The directing and system rooms will be sealed after the transfer of the belongings is completed.
The raid was carried out while imc TV was live on air, as it was reporting on the sealing of the broadcast room of Hayatın Sesi TV, another TV channel that was taken off the air last week. Later in the day, police raided Özgür Radyo, detaining 18 people, including employee Ali Sönmez Kayar, who suffered head injuries after allegedly being beaten by police. Another unidentified employee at Özgür Radyo was also seen being dragged by her hair from the station by two police officers during the government raid on its office.
Istanbul-based imc TV is among 23 television and radio stations that were banned last week by Turkish authorities, based on a state of emergency decree.