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Turkey29 August 2006

Court rules that two women reporters must stay in prison

A court of assizes in Adana ruled on 25 August that Evrim Dengiz and Nesrin Yazar of the Kurdish news agency DIHA must remain in custody until their next hearing on 3 October. Their lawyers challenged an expert report submitted to the court claiming that products found in their rental car at the time of their arrest could have been used to make petrol bombs.

One of the defence lawyers also argued that the police report on the search of the car was not drawn up at the time of the search and was therefore not legally valid.

Meanwhile, the charges against them have changed. On 18 February, three days after their arrest, the prosecutor’s office in Mersin accused them of “jeopardising the unity of the state and territorial integrity” and requested life sentences. Now they are accused of “collaborating” with the PKK, the outlawed Kurdish separatist organisation, for which they could get 10 years in prison.

2 august 2006

Authorities still holding two women reporters with Kurdish news agency

Reporters Without Borders called today for the provisional release of Evrim Dengiz and Nesrin Yazar while they await trial. The two women journalists, who work for the Kurdish news agency DIHA, have been held in pretrial detention since 15 February although they did not commit any crime of violence, the press freedom organisation said.

Their lawyer, Bedri Kuran, has appealed against the decision to keep them in detention before a court in Adana, where the next hearing is to be held on 25 August. They are to be tried by a court of assizes in the eastern city of Malatya on charges of “threat against the unity of the state and territorial integrity,” for which they face a possible sentence of life imprisonment.

10 May 2006

Call for release of two women journalists with pro-Kurdish news agency

Reporters Without Borders today called for the provisional release of two women reporters with the pro-Kurdish news agency DIHA pending the outcome of their trial, which began yesterday. Evrim Dengiz and Nesrin Yazar face life imprisonment on charges of “jeopardising the unity of the state and territorial integrity.”

Evrim Dengiz

“They have not committed any violent crime and there are no grounds for their being kept in preventive custody,” the press freedom organisations said. “We also call on the prosecutor to reconsider the extremely severe sentences he has requested.”

Arrested by anti-terrorist police on 15 February, Dengiz and Yazar were transferred two weeks ago to a prison in the southern city of Adana. The court rejected their request to be released.

Nesrin Yazar

Their lawyer, Bedri Kuran, who has had no access to their files because the case has been classified as secret on security grounds, said the police broke the law by searching his clients’ rental car without an order from a judge or a senior police officer. He also complained about the lack of a forensic report on the two petrol bombs which police claim they found in the car.

The next hearing in their trial is scheduled for 4 July.

28 February 2006

Two reporters accused of making fire-bombs face life imprisonment

Reporters Without Borders said today it was very concerned about two women journalists of the pro-Kurdish news agency DIHA, Evrim Dengiz and Nesrin Yazar, accused by police of making fire-bombs allegedly found in their car. They face life imprisonment.

Their car was stopped by anti-terrorist police in Mersin (300 km south of Ankara) on 15 February after they had covered a demonstration marking the seventh anniversary of the detention of Kurdish separatist leader Abdullah Öcalan, head of the of PKK/Kongra-Gel party.

They were taken away from the car while it was searched, after which a policeman said he had found fire-bombs in it and accused them of making them for the demonstration. They were arrested and a judge later declared the case secret and the Mersin prosecutor called for life imprisonment under article 302-1 of the criminal code for “undermining the unity or independence of the state and nation.” The article excludes any possibility of amnesty.

“We are very concerned at the accusations against them and the harsh sentence proposed,” Reporters Without Borders said. “The circumstances of their arrest are very confused and do not clearly establish their guilt. The legal authorities must make every effort to determine the origin of the firebombs, the only evidence against them. The judge has hastily declared the matter secret and is blocking all openness.”

Dengiz and Yazar were interrogated for two days before being jailed on 17 February at the request of the Mersin prosecutor. Because of the secrecy, their lawyers have no access to the case-files, preventing them from preparing an adequate defence.

A member of the Human Rights Association of Turkey (IHD) said Yazar had earlier been threatened by police who demanded that she stop working for DHA and said she would be punished if she did not.

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