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Turkey17 August 2005

Kurdish journalist detained for allegedly having footage of PKK militants

Reporters Without Borders today condemned the detention of a journalist of Kurdish origin for allegedly possessing video footage of members of group linked to the outlawed PKK (Kurdistan Workers’ Party).

Birol Duru, a correspondent with the pro-Kurdish news agency DIHA (Tiger), and Daimi Açig, a member of the Turkish Human Rights Association (IHD), were arrested by local police in Dibarbey, a village in the eastern province of Bingöl, on 10 August and were subsequently placed in custody in Bingöl prison.

"We are very concerned about this new attack on press freedom in Turkey, which is the second case of journalists being arbitrarily arrested in less than two weeks," the organisation said, calling for the immediate release of both Duru and Açig.

When detained, Duru was investigating cannabis trafficking in Bingöl, including allegations that Yedisu police chief Ahmet Yanaral is involved in the trafficking. Duru and Açig were accused of "collaborating with the PKK" when they appeared before a prosecutor and a judge in Karliova on 12 August. Duru believes he is the victim of a conspiracy, in part because he brought a complaint against Yanaral some time ago, accusing him of making threats against him.

Serhat Atli, the lawyer acting for the two detainees, filed a request for the lifting of their detention order with the Bingöl provincial court on 15 August. The court is due to give its decision on 19 August.

Atli and Duru’s agency, DIHA, also maintain that he is the victim of a conspiracy by the regional authorities. They also said the arrests were illegal because "the report on what was found in Duru’s bag was not drawn up in the presence of a witness and because they do not have the evidence to justify holding them in custody."

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