At least 25 journalists were among more than 40 people arrested in a nationwide sweep in Turkey yesterday, allegedly for having links to the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), report the IPS Communication Foundation (BIANET), the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) and Reporters Without Borders (RSF). The arrests bring the number of journalists in Turkish jails to more than 90, making Turkey one of the world's worst for detaining journalists, says BIANET.
"We call on Ankara to release the identities of the detained journalists and all charges being filed against them," said CPJ. "The government must also immediately produce supporting evidence for this alarming, widespread crackdown. Without transparency, this clampdown appears to be an effort to silence dissenting views."
The coordinated, morning raids stretched across seven Turkish cities, including Istanbul, Diyarbakir, Van, Izmir, and Ankara, and were allegedly part of the "KCK operation", report the IFEX members. KCK, or the Union of Kurdish Communities, is the umbrella organisation that includes the militant PKK. The PKK is classified as a terrorist organisation by Turkey, the United States and the European Union.
Initial reports indicated that the operation targeted not only pro-Kurdish media but also mainstream media that occasionally work with them, says RSF.
IFJ says that several media outlets were forced to close. Detainees included 10 journalists from the pro-Kurdish Dicle news agency, Agence France-Presse photographer Mustafa Ozer, who was arrested at his home in Istanbul, and Zeynep Kuray, a reporter covering human rights issues for the daily "Bir Gun".
The arrests came as 65 journalists were already in jail awaiting trials, most of the time under the pretext of allegations of terrorist activities, says IFJ.
Last month, an international mission that included RSF, the International Press Institute (IPI), the European Federation of Journalists (EFJ) and others visited Turkey to demand the immediate release of all Turkish journalists apparently jailed because of their work.
EFJ has also launched an international postcard campaign to express solidarity with jailed journalists.