Freedom of expression

Turkey: Release the 20 Kurdish journalists arbitrarily detained in Diyarbakır

In the early morning of June 8, 2022, police officers raided the houses of journalists, the office of media outlet JinNews, and two production companies in Diyarbakır and confiscated cameras, computers and digital material.

Following this operation, a total of 22 people, among them 20 journalists, were taken into custody, including:
- Serdar Altan, co-chair of the Dicle Fırat Journalists Association (DFG);
- Safiye Alagaş, director of the JinNews agency;
- Gülşen Koçuk, JinNews editor;
- Aziz Oruç, Mesopotamia Agency (MA) editor;
- Mehmet Ali Ertaş, Xwebûn editor-in-chief;
- journalists Ömer Çelik, Suat Doğuhan, Ramazan Geciken, Esmer Tunç, Neşe Toprak, Zeynel Abidin Bulut, Mazlum Doğan Güler, Mehmet Şahin, Elif Üngür, İbrahim Koyuncu, Remziye Temel, Mehmet Yalçın, Abdurrahman Öncü, Lezgin Akdeniz and Kadir Bayram; and Feynaz Koçuk and İhsan Ergülen.

Because of the confidentiality order imposed on the file, no clear information is available about the investigation at the time of publication of this Joint Statement. The journalists were brought to the Diyarbakır Courthouse on June 15, 2022 for questioning by the prosecutor’s office. The prosecutor requested the arrest of Safiye Alagaş and Aziz Oruç from the Peace Criminal Judgeship, with the questioning of the remaining journalists ongoing at the time of publication of this Joint Statement. Their detention period has been extended until June 16, 2022.

On the morning of June 3, 2022, Dicle Müftüoğlu, the other co-chair of the DFG and an MA editor, was called in for questioning by the Diyarbakır Provincial Security Directorate. She was subsequently detained after the police raided her home in Diyarbakır. Accused of “financing a [terrorist] organisation” by sending money to the imprisoned journalists Nedim Türfent and Ziya Ataman, Müftüoğlu was brought to Diyarbakır Court House in the morning of June 6, 2022, then questioned by Van Public Prosecutor’s Office, and finally released by the Van Peace Criminal Judgeship under judicial control on the same day. Müftüoğlu had worked with journalists Türfent and Ataman during her time as the editor-in-chief of Dicle News Agency, which was shut down by an emergency decree in October 2016. She had sent money in solidarity with her colleagues who are jailed since 2016 and convicted of terrorism charges as a result of unfair trials.

On June 12, 2022, MA reporter Ergin Çağlar and JinNews reporter Rozerin Gültekin were arbitrarily detained and released on the same day while covering the march held by six institutions and political parties in Gemlik, Bursa, to draw attention to the isolation conditions of the jailed PKK [Kurdistan Workers’ Party] leader Abdullah Öcalan.

FIDH and OMCT recall that judicial harassment, including arbitrary detention, arrest and conviction of Kurdish dissidents, human rights defenders and journalists, particularly under the much-criticised anti-terrorism framework, is common practice in Turkey, as mentioned in the Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders (a FIDH-OMCT partnership) and the Human Rights Association (İnsan Hakları Derneği – İHD)’s reports, Turkey’s Civil Society on the Line: a Shrinking Space for Freedom of Association and A Perpetual Emergency: Attacks on Freedom of Assembly in Turkey and Repercussions for Civil Society.

These incidents of judicial harassment take place against the backdrop of a problematic bill on disinformation that is currently reviewed before the Parliament’s Justice Commission. If enacted, this bill will introduce the crime of “publicly disseminating misleading information” to the Turkish Penal Code, which carries a prison sentence of up to three years. Journalists oppose the bill on the grounds that it will be used to target press freedom, worsening judicial harassment against journalists.

FIDH and OMCT condemn the police raid and the arbitrary detention of these 20 journalists, as they seem to be only aimed at punishing them for their legitimate exercise of their freedom of press and expression.

Our organisations urge the authorities in Turkey to immediately and unconditionally release all the journalists currently arbitrarily detained in the country. FIDH and OMCT more generally call on the authorities to ensure that all journalists in Turkey are able to carry out their legitimate work without fear of reprisals and free of all restrictions, including judicial harassment.

Turkey: Arbitrary arrest of 16 Kurdish journalists in Diyarbakır

Of the 22 people arbitrarily detained following police raids on the houses of journalists, the office of media outlet JinNews, and two production companies in Diyarbakır on June 8, 2022, 16 journalists were arbitrarily arrested on June 16, 2022, including:
- Serdar Altan, co-chair of the Dicle Fırat Journalists Association (DFG);
- Safiye Alagaş, director of the JinNews agency;
- Aziz Oruç, Mesopotamia Agency (MA) editor;
- Mehmet Ali Ertaş, Xwebûn editor-in-chief;
- and journalists Ömer Çelik, Suat Doğuhan, Ramazan Geciken, Neşe Toprak, Zeynel Abidin Bulut, Mazlum Doğan Güler, Mehmet Şahin, Elif Üngür, İbrahim Koyuncu, Remziye Temel, Abdurrahman Öncü, and Lezgin Akdeniz.
The 16 journalists were sent to Diyarbakır Prison where they were still detained at the time of publication of this Joint Statement.

Gülşen Koçuk, JinNews editor; journalists Esmer Tunç, Mehmet Yalçın and Kadir Bayram; and citizens Feynaz Koçuk and İhsan Ergülen, who were also arbitrarily detained following the operation, were released under judicial control.

The journalists were charged with “membership to an armed organisation”, after being brought to the Diyarbakır Courthouse on June 15, 2022, where they were questioned on the content of their reporting.

In addition, at 6 am on June 16, 2022, journalist İnci Hekimoğlu was detained following a police raid on her home in Izmir and released later the same day. She is charged with “terrorist propaganda” due to her social media posts.

Around the same time as the arrests in Diyarbakır took place on June 16, 2022, a problematic bill on disinformation that was under discussion at the parliamentary level passed the Parliament’s Justice Commission and will now be reviewed by the General Assembly of the Parliament. If enacted, this bill will introduce the crime of “publicly disseminating misleading information” to the Turkish Penal Code, which carries a prison sentence of up to three years. Given the alarming examples of arbitrary arrest and judicial harassment of journalists mentioned above, this bill represents a serious threat to freedom of expression and particularly press freedom in Turkey. Precisely for this reason, journalists in the country strongly oppose it.

FIDH and OMCT recall that judicial harassment, including arbitrary detention, arrest and conviction of Kurdish dissidents, human rights defenders and journalists, particularly under the much-criticised anti-terrorism framework, is common practice in Turkey, as mentioned in the Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders (a FIDH-OMCT partnership) and the Human Rights Association (İnsan Hakları Derneği – İHD)’s reports, Turkey’s Civil Society on the Line: a Shrinking Space for Freedom of Association and A Perpetual Emergency: Attacks on Freedom of Assembly in Turkey and Repercussions for Civil Society.

FIDH and OMCT condemn the arbitrary arrest of the above-mentioned 16 journalists as well as the judicial harassment against them and other journalists in the country, as they seem to be only aimed at punishing them for their legitimate exercise of their freedom of expression, including press freedom.

Our organisations urge the authorities in Turkey to immediately and unconditionally release all the journalists currently arbitrarily detained in the country. FIDH and OMCT further call on the authorities to ensure that all journalists in Turkey are able to carry out their legitimate work without fear of reprisals and free of all restrictions, including judicial harassment.

Finally, our organisations express their utmost concern about the dangerous bill on disinformation and urge the authorities in Turkey to refrain from enacting it as well as to ensure, in all circumstances, the respect and protection of the right to freedom of expression, including press freedom, in the country.


The International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) is an international human rights NGO federating 192 organisations from 117 countries. Since 1922, FIDH has defended all civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights as set out in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

The World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT) is the largest global NGO group actively standing up to torture and protecting human rights defenders worldwide. It has more than 200 members in 90 countries. Its international Secretariat is based in Geneva, Switzerland.