Turkey seeks prison sentence for journalist Hayri Demir’s Rojava reports

Kurdish journalist Hayri Demir.

Update: Journalists Hayri Demir and Emrah Erdogan were released on judicial control after appearing in court in Ankara on Friday.

Journalist Hayri Demir, who was taken into custody on 16 March on charges of membership to an illegal organisation, has been referred to court following questioning at the prosecutor’s office.

Demir’s reporting from northern Syria’s autonomous region, Rojava, formed the foundations to the indictment, news site Gazete Karinca reported.

Dihaber News Agency reporters Hayri Demir and Emrah Erdogan were both detained in morning raids by police as part of the same investigation on 16 March.

Both journalists appeared at the Ankara Court this morning and following questioning were referred to a judge on charges of membership to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and “terrorist propaganda.”

Responding to accusations that his reports, photographs, videos and social media posts from Rojava in 2015 constituted criminal activity, Demir rejected the claims saying his work was “solely of a journalistic nature.”

Both journalists will appear in court today.

According to the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) Turkey is the biggest jailer of journalists in the world and has shut down 178 media outlets since last July’s coup attempt.

Of the more than 100 journalists currently imprisoned in Turkey, the large majority are Kurdish, while all are imprisoned on “terror” charges.

“Turkey now has the dubious honour of being the world’s biggest jailer of journalists, and free media in the country is in its death throes,” Amnesty International has said.

Turkish officials have denied that any journalists are behind bars, instead calling those imprisoned “terrorists” or “spies.”