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Local journalist detained in Gaziantep, awaits trial over article referring to "North Kurdistan"

(BIANET/IFEX) - Yasin Yetisgen, owner and director of the "Coban Atesi" ("Shepherd's Fire") weekly newspaper in Gaziantep, south-eastern Turkey, has been detained since 13 August 2007 for using the expression "North Kurdistan" in one of his articles. He is facing charges of "damaging the unity and integrity of the state" although it is not clear under which article he will be charged.

Yetisgen has been sent to an H-type prison in Gaziantep, awaiting trial at a penal court. His file has been sent to the city of Adana.

Article 8 of the Anti-Terror Law, which punishes "separatist propaganda", was abolished on 15 July 2003. It is thus not known on what law the prosecution is basing the case.

Judge Saban Kaplan, of Gaziantep's First Court of Peace, declared that there was "strong suspicion that Yetisgen had committed a crime, and that the nature of the crime and the evidence pointed towards it being a crime under Article 100/3 of the Penal Court Law".

Seydi Vakkas Ovayolu, the lawyer representing Yetisgen, said that his client's objection to the arrest was refuted on 16 August, and that he could only receive visitors as of 20 August. "Coban Atesi" representatives have protested against the fact that Yetisgen has been arrested as a "precaution" although no trial has begun.

The newspaper's 22nd issue was confiscated because of the use of the expression "North Kurdistan" in the phrase "Antep is an industrial city in North Kurdistan". Yetisgen was called to make a statement and then arrested.

A warrant has also been issued for the arrest of Hursit Kasikkirmaz, who wrote an article entitled "Antep and the Shepherd's Fire" for the same newspaper on 2 August.

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