Turkey remands 16 journalists in custody on 'terror' charges

They were detained on June 8 in Diyarbakir in south-east Turkey

Reporters Without Borders representative Erol Onderoglu, right, denounced the arrests made on Thursday. AFP
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Turkey on Thursday remanded in custody 16 journalists accused of links to pro-Kurdish media outlets and belonging to a "terrorist organisation", their lawyer said.

Most of the journalists work for media aligned with the pro-Kurdish Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP), which is facing the threat of being banned in Turkey over accusations that it has links to outlawed militants waging a decades-long insurgency against the government.

The 16 were detained, along with four other journalists, on June 8 in Diyarbakir, south-east Turkey, on charges of belonging to the press services of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), classed as a terrorist group by Ankara, the EU and US.

The HDP denies formal ties to the PKK.

The arrested journalists include Serdar Altan, co-president of a journalists' association.

Four others were released under judicial supervision.

A representative of the Turkish arm of Reporters Without Borders, Erol Onderoglu, denounced the detentions as an attempt to weaken the "Kurdish political class... and deprive them of a voice" before Turkey's presidential election next year.

Turkey says it is planning to launch an offensive in northern Syria against Kurdish militants.

The HDP has already had many of its current and former members arrested in a government operation that started after a failed coup attempt against President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in 2016.

Turkey's western allies have been alarmed by the clampdown, warning that it threatens to further undermine diplomatic ties with Mr Erdogan's government.

Turkey ranks 149th out of 180 countries in RSF's 2022 press freedom index and is regularly criticised for muzzling press critical of the government.

Updated: June 17, 2022, 8:42 AM