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Detentions of Journalists Raise Alarm for Press Freedom in Turkey

The recent wave of detentions targeting journalists in Turkey has sparked growing concerns over press freedom in the country. In coordinated morning raids across İstanbul, İzmir, and Ankara, authorities apprehended prominent journalists, including Evrim Kepenek, Mezopotamya Ajansı (MA) reporters Fırat Can Arslan and Delal Akyüz, and T24 editor Sibel Yükler. The arrests have drawn sharp criticism from press advocacy groups, highlighting the escalating challenges journalists face while carrying out their vital role in reporting on critical issues. As the international community closely monitors these developments, questions about the state of media freedom in Turkey continue to grow more pressing.

According to bianet’s report, the police conducted a search at the İstanbul residence of Evrim Kepenek, the editor responsible for Women and LGBTI+ Rights, around noon today. The search, prompted by Kepenek and her friends’ objection, required the intervention of a local official. Ignoring the need for a lawyer’s presence, the police proceeded with the search, capturing the event on camera before taking Kepenek into custody, with the reason for her arrest remaining undisclosed.

In another instance, as reported by Mezopotamya Agency, journalist Delal Akyüz faced a police raid at her home in Izmir under the pretext of an investigation initiated by the Diyarbakır Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office. Akyüz was subsequently taken into custody and transported to the Izmir Provincial Security Directorate. However, uncertainty looms over whether she will be transferred to Diyarbakır for further proceedings.

Additionally, Delal Akyüz’s detention appears to be connected to a report she shared about changes in the duty locations of the prosecutor and a panel member involved in preparing the indictment against 18 journalists arrested during a case centered in Diyarbakır on June 16, 2022.

An intriguing twist came to light during the raid at Delal Akyüz’s home, with allegations that some police officers failed to comply with the mandatory requirement of wearing galoshes. When questioned, one officer reportedly dismissed the necessity of galoshes, stating, “What will happen, you can clean it.”

In Diyarbakır, as part of the same investigation, MA reporter Fırat Can Arslan was also taken into custody during a raid at his residence in Ankara. However, the reasons behind Arslan’s detention have not been disclosed, and he was subsequently taken to the Ankara Provincial Security Directorate, where his phone and computer were seized during the operation.

Simultaneously, T24 editor Sibel Yükler was detained in a similar raid at her residence in Ankara and subsequently taken to the Ankara Provincial Security Directorate.

Following the detention of these journalists, DİSK Basın-İş, a press workers’ union, expressed its disapproval, strongly condemning the actions. The Turkey Press, Broadcasting, and Publishing Workers’ Union took to Twitter, demanding the immediate release of their colleagues and emphasizing that journalism is not a crime.

The mounting pressure and international scrutiny surrounding these detentions underscore the pressing need to address concerns regarding the protection of press freedom and the right to free expression in Turkey.

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