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Turkey Arrests 6 Journalists, Threatens to Strip MPs of their Immunity

Turkey Arrests 6 Journalists, Threatens to Strip MPs of their Immunity

Thursday, 2 April, 2020 - 11:30
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan addresses members of his ruling AK Party during a meeting at the parliament in Ankara, Turkey, March 11, 2020. Presidential Press Office/Handout via Reuters

Turkish authorities have arrested six journalists for publishing reports or posting information on social media on Turkish nationals killed in Libya and Syria.

Baris Pehlivan, the editor-in-chief of the OdaTV website, was arrested for disclosing the identity of an intelligence officer killed in Libya.

The arrest order came after the court jailed two other OdaTV journalists, Baris Terkoglu and Hulya Kilinc.

On March 3, the website released a story about the officer’s funeral in the western city of Manisa and showed footage, saying the ceremony was held discreetly and without the participation of high-ranking officials.

Turkey’s Information and Communication Technologies Authority banned access to OdaTV’s website.

According to media reports, Yenicag journalist Murat Agirel, as well as Yeni Yasam Managing Editor Aydin Keser and Editor-in-Chief Ferhat Celik, were re-arrested after a prosecutor overturned their earlier release. They were also detained on the same charges.

Agirel released the identities and photos of some of the Turkish citizens killed in Libya.

It was later revealed that the dead were officers from the Turkish intelligence service. They had travelled to Libya as part of a security and military cooperation deal to send experts and military personnel to the country.

The deal was signed last year by Turkey and Libya's Government of National Accord, led by Fayez al-Sarraj.

Turkey’s opposition nationalist Good Party MP Umit Ozdag said those killed were not buried like soldiers who had died in gunbattles, and no official funerals were organized for them.

Media outlets that are close to President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said the reports have violated a law that prohibits disclosing the identity of intelligence agents.

In February, Erdogan acknowledged two Turkish troops were killed in Libya. "We have two martyrs of ours there (Libya)," he told a news conference in Ankara.

The public prosecution has also demanded stripping opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) MP Engin Ozkoc of his immunity on charges of insulting the president.

CHP MP Atilla Sertel said the government is trying to spread fear and silence everyone ahead of early elections.

"Erdogan's Justice and Development Party followed the same method in the elections held in November 2015," he stressed.

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