Mezopotamya news agency reporter Ergin Çağlar arrested at Mersin Courthouse; Hamburg-based Turkish couple arrested over social media posts after landing in Istanbul

Journalist Ergin Çağlar, a Mersin-based reporter for the Mezopotamya news agency (MA), was arrested on 16 August 2019 at the Mersin Courthouse, where he had gone to give his statement as part of an ongoing criminal investigation against him.

Police raided Çağlar’s apartment in Mersin on 14 August as part of an investigation by the Mersin Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office, which had also issued an arrest warrant for the journalist. Çağlar was not at home during the raid, but the police confiscated several books they found in his apartment.

Çağlar was brought to the Mersin Police Department for interrogation after being arrested at the Mersin Courthouse. The journalist is charged with “membership in a terrorist group” and news reports said a confidentiality order was in place concerning the investigation.

One person arrested in Tekirdağ for “insulting the president”

An individual who goes by the initials İ.Ü. was arrested in the northwestern Turkish province of Tekirdağ over their social media posts. İ.Ü. was arrested on the grounds that they insulted President Erdoğan on social media. İ.Ü.’s arrest came after a tip-off. İ.Ü. was still in police custody as of 15 August 2019, according to the pro-government Sabah daily.

Germany-based couple arrested over social media posts

A Hamburg-based Turkish couple (Hediye Balkız and her husband, Mehmet Balkız) was taken into custody on 9 August 2019 upon landing at Istanbul’s Sabiha Gökçen Airport on a flight from Germany.

Hediye and Mehmet Balkız, who have been living in Germany for the past 25 years, were arrested on account of their social media posts and both are charged with “terrorism propaganda.” The couple was set to appear before a court on duty on 10 August. The prosecutor has asked the court to jail both Hediye and Mehmet Balkız, news reports said.

As quoted by the news website Artı Gerçek, Hediye Balkız said as they were being transferred from the airport to the courthouse that about 25 other European-based individuals from Turkey who had arrived in Istanbul around the same time as the Balkızs had been interrogated in connection with their social media posts, and that they had been subjected to nonphysical ill-treatment during interrogation.

Last week, German media reported that a German national identified as Osman B. had been arrested over his social media posts in late July upon his arrival in Antalya for holiday and that he was charged with “terrorism propaganda.”

Currently, a total of seven German nationals are reportedly in detention on remand in Turkey on political grounds.

List of journalists and media workers in prison

As of 16 August 2019, at least 138 journalists and media workers are in prison in Turkey, either in pre-trial detention or serving a sentence.

The full list can be accessed here.

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