Two reporters from Turkey’s pro-Kurdish Mezopotamya News Agency (MA) have been arrested by a local court on terror-related offenses, the agency said in a report on Tuesday.
An Istanbul court on Tuesday ruled to arrest MA reporters Sadiye Eser and Sadik Topaloglu on charges that include membership in a terrorist organization.
The court’s verdict followed the detention of the two reporters, which was reportedly carried out soon after they left the news agency’s office in the Beyoglu district of Istanbul on November 29.
In their statements, both Eser and Topaloglu on Tuesday denied the charges against them and demanded their release, explaining that they have engaged in nothing but journalism.
Lawyers representing the reporters, Ozcan Kilic and Sercan Korkmaz, also argued that evidence supporting the terror-related claims against Eser and Topaloglu is not solid enough for a verdict of arrest, demanding their release under judicial control.
The Istanbul 3rd Heavy Penal Court, however, on Tuesday ruled to arrest the pro-Kurdish agency’s reporters based on their trips overseas and the claims formerly filed against them.
Eser was sent to the Bakirkoy Women’s Closed Penitentiary while Topaloglu was put in the Metris Closed Penitentiary, with the latter being expected soon to be transferred to the Silivri Penitentiaries Campus also in Istanbul.
The pro-Kurdish MA’s two reporters were arrested for suspected membership in the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which is designated as a terrorist organization by the Turkish government.
The PKK is an armed militant group of Kurdish separatists in Turkey that have waged an insurgency in the country’s predominantly Kurdish southeast for more than three decades.
A number of social media users on Tuesday condemned the Turkish court’s decision to arrest Eser and Topaloglu on Twitter, using the hashtags #GazetecilikSuçDeğildir (#Journalismisnotacrime) and #ÖzgürBasınSusturulamaz (#Freemediacannotbesilenced).