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Reporter released pending trial after five months in detention

(BIANET/IFEX) - 19 May 2010 - Dicle News Agency reporter İsmail Eskin was released pending trial during his first hearing after five months in detention. Eskin was arrested while covering a demonstration against the conditions of detention for Abdullah Öcalan, imprisoned leader of the militant Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK).

The 1st Magistrate Criminal Court of Kocaeli (east of Istanbul) placed Eskin in detention on 4 December 2009. He was brought before the Istanbul 9th High Criminal Court on 18 May 2010.

Eskin, a third year journalism student at Kocaeli University, covered the protest action in the Topçular district of Kocaeli on 29 November. He was arrested at his home on 1 December on charges that he deliberately joined the protests and participated in activities related to propaganda for a terrorist organization. He was detained on 4 December and taken to the Kandıra Prison.

On 18 May, Eskin was brought to the courthouse in Beşiktaş (European side of Istanbul) in handcuffs. The court decided to release him pending trial.

During the 18 May hearing, Eskin told judge Murat Koper that he was sent to Kocaeli by the DİHA news director to report on events there. "The protest action had already started when I arrived, fires had been lit, there were fireworks and people danced an Anatolian folk dance. I did not get close to the crowd, I was carrying the video camera and the photo camera the agency had given to me, I also had my press card. I did not participate in the demonstration. I do not accept the charges against me. I was there because of my work only. I work for the news agency to earn a living," Eskin stated.

Explaining the decision to detain Eskin, Judge Murat Koper said, "From the confiscated photographs it was understood that he was not personally pursued, he was not obstructed and he is only seen in an angry pose."

The indictment assessed Eskin's taking pictures and reporting as "organized activities". The file presented as evidence by the Kocaeli Police Directorate says that 38 names registered in Eskin's phone book are subject to investigation.

As part of the evidence for Eskin's detention, it was also stated that the Police Directorate had additional information about 34 people, including Eskin's colleague DİHA reporter Serkan Kurt, agency manager Kadri Kaya, Istanbul Deputy of the pro-Kurdish Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) Sebahat Tuncel and Eskin's fellow students.

The indictment quotes the following statement by the police officers: "We know these persons from numerous previous actions. We confirmed that these persons participated in the protest action."

In the course of the search of Eskin's house, a book entitled "Communist" by Vedat Türkali was confiscated and evaluated as proof that Eskin was involved in "organized activities".

Lawyer Özan Kılıç, DİHA's legal advisor, indicated that some people had tried to create false evidence. He emphasized that relations to journalists' news sources must be protected. Kılıç argued, "A journalist who interviewed Bin Laden is not asked why and how he talked to him."

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