The International Press Institute (IPI) today condemned the arrests in Turkey of two journalists working for the critical news outlets Odatv and TELE1 in Ankara and demanded their immediate release.
On June 8, the two journalists, Müyesser Yıldız, Odatv news editor in Ankara bureau, and İsmail Dükel, Ankara correspondent of TELE1, were taken into custody during early morning raids at their homes. Yıldız was reported to be detained under allegations of “military espionage” while the initial charges against Dükel remain unclear. According to Odatv, police searched Yıldız’s house and confiscated digital materials such as computer, phones including of her son and her husband.
Local news reported that Yıldız was detained as part of an ongoing military espionage investigation by the Ankara Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office. Turkish pro-government media have reported that the journalists were detained in relation to phone calls with a military official with the initials E.B., which are reported to be about Turkey’s military units in Libya. Other news sources claim that the journalists’ phones were tapped for two months on the order of prosecution’s office.
Both journalists are being held at the police station, waiting for their initial statements to be taken. Their lawyers reported that their requests to access documents and further information on the charges were rejected because of a constraint order on the file. The initial explanation by the prosecutor’s office stated that journalists are subject to a custody period up to four days.
IPI Deputy Director Scott Griffen called on Turkish authorities to immediately release both Yıldız and Dükel.
“We condemn these latest arrests of journalists Müyesser Yıldız and İsmail Dükel in Turkey”, he said. “There is no reason to hold them further even if an investigation is pending, and their extended police custody is a violation of the presumption of innocence. They must be released without delay if Turkey wants to show that there is still a glimpse of the rule of law in the country.”
IPI previously submitted an alert to the Council of Europe platform to promote and protect journalists’ safety regarding Yıldız after she being openly targeted by Turkish Interior Ministry Süleyman Soylu on May 18, 2020 and accused of having “terrorist” sympathies after she corrected Soylu’s announcement of a militant camp takeover.
Three Odatv journalists were also arrested in early March after reporting on the funeral of an intelligence officer who died in Libya. The journalists remain imprisoned and face charges of defying the National Intelligence Law and revealing state secrets. First hearing will take place on June 24.