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Turkey6 August 2005

Arbitrary arrest and interrogation of four journalists deplored

Reporters Without Borders strongly protested today at the arrest and interrogation of four Turkish journalists who were reporting on the release of a Turkish soldier by his Kurdish nationalist kidnappers.

"These journalists were simply doing their job," it said. "They should not be suspected of collaborating with the Kurdish Workers Party (PKK) just because they covered this event. The legitimate and necessary fight against terrorism can never justify such violations of press freedom and we urge justice minister Cemil Cicek to see they are released at once."

Kadir Özbek and Rüstü Demirkaya, of the pro-Kurdish news agency DIHA, Ferit Demir, of the DHA (Dogan) and Reuters news agencies, and Haydar Toprakçi, of the official Anatolian News Agency (AA), were arrested on 4 August in the village of Gülec (in Tunceli province, Eastern Anatolia). They are still being held at army headquarters in Tunceli.

They had gone to Gülec with a human rights delegation to see a Turkish soldier, Coskun Kirandi, who had been held by PKK militants since 11 July and had just been freed.

All members of the delegation, including Selahattin Demirtas, head of the Diyarbakir branch of the Turkish Human Rights Association (IHD), Mihdi Perinçek, leader of the IHD, Ferhat Tunç, a singer and columnist for the pro-Kurdish daily Ülkede Özgür Gündem, Umur Hozatli, another columnist for the paper, and Özgür Söylemez, who is also a member of the pro-Kurdish Democratic People’s Party (DEHAP), were arrested along with two villagers and interrogated by the military.

The Tunceli deputy public prosecutor, Sedat Ertaskin, told journalists that those arrested had "acted as intermediaries" and had collaborated with and made propaganda for the Kurdish cause.

Demirtas and Kirandi were freed on 5 August after appearing before a court in Tunceli.

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