The International Press Institute (IPI), Media and Law Studies Association (MLSA) and 26 press freedom, freedom of expression and human rights organizations vehemently condemn the arrest of three Kurdish journalists last week. We call upon the authorities of Turkey to uphold their commitment to press freedom and release the detained journalists immediately. Turkey must abide by its Press Law, Constitution and the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR), and refrain from targeting Kurdish media and allow all journalists to carry out their professional role, which is vital to a functioning democracy, without fear of intimidation.

Three Journalists Arrested

On April 23, authorities of Turkey carried out a raid targeting Kurdish journalists in Istanbul, Ankara and Şanlıurfa. Authorities took nine people into custody, among whom were Mezopotamya Agency (MA) reporters Esra Solin Dal, Mehmet Aslan, former MA reporter Doğan Kaynak and journalist Erdoğan Alayumat. They were denied access to their lawyers for 24 hours. The following day, the detention period was extended by another 24 hours. 

After giving their statements and appearing in court, Kaynak was released while Dal, Aslan, and Alayumat were arrested on April 27. They were accused of “membership in a terrorist organization”. 

Despite this accusation, their case files do not contain any evidence to substantiate the claim, according to the Media and Law Studies Association (MLSA) Legal Unit who are part of the defense lawyers. During police questioning, they were interrogated solely about their journalistic work, sources, and activities on social media. The MLSA Legal Unit appealed the confidentiality order and additional restrictions imposed on their case.

Continued Harassment and Intimidation of Kurdish Journalists

Kurdish media outlets and journalists have increasingly been targeted by the government of Turkey in recent years. Last year, an alarming number of Kurdish journalists – nine in total – were jailed for up to seven months. In another instance, 11 Kurdish journalists were arrested immediately before the country’s presidential and parliamentary elections in May 2023. Going further back, at least 25 Kurdish journalists were arrested and put in pre-trial detention in 2022 alone. The Mapping Media Freedom database records 43 alerts impacting 118 Kurdish journalists, media workers or outlets since 2022. The alerts are mostly instances of legal harassment that often result in arrest and imprisonment. 

On the occasion of World Press Freedom Day, May 3, we renew our urgent call to the authorities of Turkey to cease the harassment and intimidation of Kurdish journalists. We urge them to ensure the safety and protection of all journalists in line with Turkey’s obligations under its own Press Law and Constitution. We also call for a halt to the constant violation of the rights of freedom of expression and media freedom as protected under Article 10 of the ECHR.


Signed by:

International Press Institute (IPI)
Media and Law Studies Association (MLSA)
Articolo 21
Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ)
English PEN
European Centre for Press and Media Freedom (ECPMF)
Index on Censorship
Irish PEN/PEN na hÉireann
Kurdish PEN
OBC Transeuropa
PEN America
PEN Armãn
PEN Canada
PEN Catalan
PEN Croatia
PEN International
PEN Melbourne
PEN Netherlands
PEN Norway
PEN San Miguel
PEN Sydney
PEN Québec
South East Europe Media Organisation (SEEMO)
Swedish PEN
The World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers (WAN-IFRA)
Turkey Human Rights Litigation Support Project
Vietnamese PEN Abroad
Wales PEN Cymru