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ISTANBUL, June 16 (Reuters) – A Turkish court has jailed pending trial 16 Kurdish journalists and media workers who were arrested after being arrested last week on charges of disseminating terror propaganda, it said on Thursday. the Association of Media and Legal Studies and Local Media.
They had been held for eight days in the southeastern city of Diyarbakir without being formally charged after prosecutors twice asked for an extension, they said.
Five other journalists arrested on June 8 were not imprisoned, according to Demiroren and other Turkish media.
Turkey has imprisoned more journalists than most other countries in the past decade, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists, and several media groups have condemned the detentions over the past week as “ruthless”.
Among those arrested were Serdar Altan, co-director of the Dicle Firat Journalists Association, Safiye Alagas, director of Jin News, and Aziz Oruc, editor of the Mezopotamya news agency.
On June 8, police in Diyarbakir, mainly Kurdish, arrested the 21 journalists accused of making propaganda for a terrorist organization about the preparation of television broadcasts broadcast from Belgium and Great Britain, reported the Demiroren news agency.
Demiroren quoted police sources as saying they were investigating the “press committee” of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PPK) militant group. The Diyarbakir court declined to comment.
On Monday, 837 journalists and 62 outlets issued a statement supporting their detained colleagues and condemning the detention after the raids as “a blow to press freedom”.
He called on the Turkish opposition – which he said makes “claims on law, justice, equality, freedom and democracy” – to stand in solidarity with them. He also called on the judiciary “not to become an instrument of illegality and government tyranny”.
President Tayyip Erdogan’s government says the courts are independent.
Turkey ranks 149th out of 180 countries in the Reporters Without Borders (RSF) World Press Freedom Index, which describes it as a country in which “all possible means are used to undermine criticism”.
Reporting by Daren Butler and Ece Toksabay; Editing by Jonathan Spicer and Angus MacSwan
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