Turkey detains Kurdish journalist, poet Salih Turan on 'terror' charges

Prosecutors leveled the accusation over the social media activity of Turan, also a poet.

ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – Turkish authorities on Tuesday arrested yet another Kurdish journalist on charges of “terrorist propaganda.”

Police detained Salih Turan, a freelancer who worked for the Kurdish language services of the Voice of America (VOA) and Russia’s Sputnik news agency, during a morning raid on his flat in Istanbul.

Turan is also a poet who solely pens in the Kurdish language.

A source who asked not to be named told Kurdistan 24 that a Turkish court in Istanbul remanded Turan to the Metris Prison after interrogation by prosecutors.

He said prosecutors deemed his social media posts to be “propaganda for a terror group,” or more specifically the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) that has been leading a four-decades-long guerrilla conflict against the Turkish state over Kurds’ demands of self-rule.

“Salih Turan is a journalist and poet. I know him for more than 15 years. He writes his news stories only in Kurdish, works for Kurdish news agencies, he insists on using Kurdish. You will never see him praising ‘terror’ or violence in any one of his writings. But they have now taken even him into custody over ‘terror’ propaganda,” Mehmet Sanri, a fellow reporter working for the Erbil-based Kurdistan TV, tweeted.

The spokesperson of the Kurdistan Democratic Party-Turkey (PDK-T), Rojhat Amedi, said the administration of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan was going after “anyone criticizing” it. He called it a “lie” that Ankara was only after the PKK or Gulenists, the latter members of a Turkish Islamic rival movement to the Ankara government.

“It has come to the point that they now arrest even those critical of the Iranian regime,” he tweeted, ostensibly referring to an investigation late last year by Turkish authorities against Sanri for calling the Islamic Republic “bloody.”

The US-based Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) has labeled Turkey “the world’s worst jailer of journalists,” with Ankara having imprisoned more media workers than China, Russia, Iran, and Syria combined.

“For the third consecutive year, every journalist imprisoned in Turkey is facing anti-state charges,” a CPJ report in December 2018 said.

The CPJ put the number of journalists the Erdogan regime has jailed at 68. Local media unions, however, such as Turkey Journalists’ Syndicate, say the total number of journalists in Turkish jails is much higher: a staggering number of 144, a majority of them Kurdish.

Editing by Nadia Riva