Turkey detains 11 journalists working for pro-Kurdish media

ANKARA, Turkey (AP) — Police carried out raids in several Turkish cities on Tuesday and detained 11 journalists affiliated with pro-Kurdish media for their alleged links to Kurdish militants, officials and reports said.

The detentions come days after Turkey ratified a controversial new media law that mandates prison terms for people deemed to be spreading “disinformation” for the purpose of causing “public worry, fear and panic.” Critics of the law have said they fear President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s government — which already controls most news outlets — will use it to further crack down on social media and independent reporting as the country heads toward elections.

The pro-Kurdish Mezopotamya news agency said its chief editor, Diren Yurtsever, and eight other journalists were taken away for questioning following simultaneous police raids on their homes in Ankara, Istanbul and five other cities. Two journalists from the JinNews agency were also detained, it said.

Police confirmed the detentions with a statement posted on Twitter saying the suspects were taken away for news or content “that incites the public to hatred and enmity.”

The statement from the Ankara Police Department also accused Mezopotamya of operating as the “Press Council” of the banned Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or PKK, and described the raids as an “anti-terrorism operation.”

Turkey has been named among the world’s biggest jailers of journalists, and at least 35 journalists and other media workers are currently in jail under Turkey’s broad anti-terrorism laws, according to the Journalists’ Union of Turkey. The government insists that the journalists are prosecuted for criminal acts and not for their journalistic work.

The PKK has led an armed insurgency against the Turkish state since 1984. The group is considered a terrorist organization in Turkey, Europe and the United States.

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