Turkey has detained two journalists over a report unveiling the identity of two Turkish intelligence officers who were among soldiers killed in Libya, the state-run news agency Anadolu reported on Thursday.
An Istanbul court jailed two journalists for OdaTV, news director Baris Terkoglu and reporter Hulya Kilinc over the footage of a funeral in the western province of Manisa.
The footage showed no mass attendance at the funeral contrary to the common practice when a soldier is killed.
An opposition IYI (Good) Party MP had already revealed the identity of Turkey’s National Intelligence Organisation (MIT) officers at a press conference in parliament.
Umit Ozdag last week said that both killed in Libya were MIT officers and identified them as Okan Altinay and Sinan Caferler.
The two journalists were questioned by prosecutors for one-and-a-half hours late on Wednesday.
A judge, asserting that the news report put members of the officers’ families in danger and threatened to compromise intelligence operation, ruled their arrest pending trial.
Turkey has been sending soldiers and Syrian fighters to Libya as of January to help bolster the UN-backed Government of National Accord (GNA), which has been under assault from forces loyal to military commander Khalifa Haftar.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan last week said that there had been “two martyrs in Libya” but had declined to reveal more details.
OdaTV’s editor-in-chief Baris Pehlivan criticized the arrests on Twitter, pointing out that other news outlets had already reported the MIT officer’s identity after an MP revealed it.
Barış Terkoğlu şehit olan MİT mensubunu deşifre etmekten gözaltına alındı. Halbuki şehidimizin ismi ve soyadı açık şekilde, Odatv’nin haberinden 1 hafta önce Meclis’te canlı yayında açıklandı. Ve birçok yerde haber oldu. Biz buna rağmen soyadını kodladık. https://t.co/DYc2gahafT
— Barış Pehlivan (@barispehlivan) March 4, 2020
Media rights activists condemned the detentions on Thursday.
Reporters Without Borders said the detention of OdaTV news director and reporter was an attempt to ‘intimidate’ a critical media outlet, Middle East Eye reported.
Press freedoms in Turkey, the top jailer of journalists in the world, have declined sharply in recent years under the Erdogan government.