Number of jailed journalists in Turkey reaches 156 following the arrests of Taşkın, Yılmaz and Ergül on January 23, 2018

Three more journalists were arrested in Turkey as of the beginning of the week of January 22, 2018. Van-based journalist İdris Yılmaz, who was taken into custody on January 21; Mesopotamia News Agency reporter Seda Taşkın, who was detained on January 22 in Ankara; and Haydar Ergül, an editor for the Demokratik Modernite (Democratic Modernity) magazine, who had been in detention since January 16, were jailed pending trial on January 23.

Yılmaz, who was arrested on “spreading propaganda for a terrorist organization” charges, was sent to the Erciş Prison, Bianet reported. The journalist, based in the Eastern province of Van, had previously become the target of an assault while he was trying to get in touch with a local contractor who mainly works on municipal construction projects for an interview on the contractor’s new project concerning the Erciş coast.

Mesopotamia agency reporter Taşkın, who was initially taken into custody on December 20, 2017, and released four days later on judicial control terms, was detained again on January 22 during a police raid on her home in Ankara. Taşkın was interrogated by the Bitlis Criminal Judicature of Peace on January 23 via the court video-conferencing system SEGBIS, after which she was jailed pending trial on “membership in a terrorist organization” charges and sent to the Sincan Prison in Ankara. Sources said Taşkın’s latest detention followed on the heels of the prosecutor objecting to her release and requesting her reincarceration.

Demokratik Modernite editor Ergül, who had been in police custody since he was detained at the Diyarbakır Airport on January 16, was also imprisoned by an Istanbul court on January 23. Ergül was brought to Istanbul following his detention, where he appeared before a prosecutor at the Istanbul Courthouse early on January 23. Ergül was jailed on the charge of “membership in a terrorist organization.”

The latest arrests brought the number of journalists in prison in Turkey to at least 156. You can reach the full list here.

At least 150 detained for social media posts on Afrin 

At least 150 individuals including journalists and politicians have been detained in police raids since January 20, 2018, as part of Turkey’s social media crackdown on individuals who share critical comments or news regarding the Turkish Military’s “Operation Olive Branch,” which was launched over the weekend on the Syrian city of Afrin.

T24 columnist Nurcan Baysal and Halkın Nabzı (The Public’s Pulse) weekly newspaper’s Editor-in-Chief İshak Karakaş were taken into custody during police raids on January 22 as part of the investigations across Istanbul and Diyarbakır. On January 24, Baysal was released on judicial control terms. The grounds for their detentions were their social media comments concerning Afrin. Baysal, one of the founders of the Diyarbakır Political and Social Research Institute (DISA), writes on the subjects of the Kurdish issue, development and poverty in various news outlets and periodicals.

Mesopotamia news agency reporter Hayri Demir and Artı TV Ankara Representative Sibel Hürtaş were also taken into custody on January 22 during police raids on their homes. There was no official explanation as to the grounds for Hürtaş’s detention but lawyer Nuray Özdoğan told reporters that Hürtaş was detained for sharing her reporting on Afrin on social media.

The Istanbul Anadolu Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office had said in a written statement issued earlier in the week concerning the investigation it launched this week against 57 people that these individuals had shared posts “that constitute elements of the offenses ‘Insulting a public official,’ ‘Insulting the president,’ ‘Publicly degrading the Turkish Nation, the State of the Turkish Republic and its military,’ ‘Spreading propaganda for a terrorist organization,’ prescribed in Articles 125/3-a, 216-1, 199 and 301 of the Turkish Penal Code, and Article 7/2 of the Anti-Terror Law.”

Although there are conflicting reports as to the exact number of people currently in police custody, news reports have said that at least 150 people had been detained in police raids in various cities across the country, including Ankara, İzmir, Muğla, Denizli, Manisa, Kayseri and Diyarbakır.

The Anatolia news agency reported that Chief Public Prosecutors of Kütahya, Mardin, Diyarbakır, Muş, Muğla, Ankara, İstanbul, İzmir, Van, Ağrı, Mersin, Iğdır, Şanlıurfa, Bingöl and Ardahan have launched investigations into social media following the start of “Operation Olive Branch.”

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