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Turkey16 July 2008

Left-wing daily fears raid at behest of military prosecutor

Reporters Without Borders calls on a military prosecutor not to carry out a threat to raid the left-wing national daily Taraf in order to recover a leaked document that was the basis for a 25 June report claiming that Turkey’s intelligence services knew in advance of an attack by the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) on an army unit near the Iraqi border on 21 October 2007.

The attack, carried out in Daglica, in Hakkari province, resulted in 13 soldiers being killed and eight others being kidnapped.

Army high command prosecutor Zekeriya Duran wrote to Taraf’s publisher on 3 July asking for the return of “this document and the others” by 7 July, failing which he would be obliged to “have recourse to the security forces” in order to recover them. The newspaper’s staff has been fearing a raid ever since the deadline passed.

“We condemn the methods being used by the military prosecutor with Taraf,” Reporters Without Borders said. “A serious threat is being made against the newspaper in an attempt to force it to reveal its sources. We urge prosecutor Duran not to carry out his threat and not to conduct a search of the newspaper.”

In his letter to the newspaper, Duran said he also wanted to establish how documents belonging to general staff intelligence had come into the possession of “non-competent” persons.

Taraf publisher Ahmet Altan said in a 4 July editorial that “this request smells like a threat.” Claiming he was ready to give the published document to anyone who requests it, he added that the “general staff should be more explicit about the document it is referring to.”

The newspaper’s staff suspect that, although against the law, a raid will be ordered by a civilian prosecutor acting at Duran’s behest.

In his letter, Duran cited article 326 of the criminal code about “documents concerning state security” and article 339 on “possession of documents relative to state security” as the grounds for his request. He also said it was a crime to obtain and reveal documents of vital importance to national security.

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