Turkish officials arrested and jailed 16 Kurdish journalists Thursday after detaining 21 journalists for eight days without charges. Five of the original 21 were released according to reports from the Mesopotamia News Agency (MNA).
According to the Turkish Media and Law Studies Association (MLSA) the 21 journalists were originally detained on suspicion of “terrorism.” Mehmet Ali Birand, a Turkish journalist, dismissed the validity of the charges, saying:
Most of these colleagues were working in media organs such as DİHA and Özgür Gündem. They voiced their cries in the letter they published. But nobody is there. None of these journalists participated in terrorist activities. None of these journalists carried a gun, pulled a trigger, or killed anyone.
Turkish officials have claimed the arrests were part of an investigation into the “press committee” of the militant Kurdistan Workers Party.
Turkey consistently ranks low on Reporters Without Borders’ Press Freedom Index. It is currently ranked 149 out of 180 countries, a four-point drop between 2021 and 2022.