Call to international institutions for imprisoned journalist Müftüoğlu

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  • 16:21 21 February 2024
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AMED - 6 press professional organizations operating in Turkey called on international institutions for the release of prisoner journalist Dicle Müftüoğlu.

Contemporary Journalists Association (CGD), Dicle Fırat Journalists Association (DFG), Media and Legal Studies Association (MLSA), Mesopotamia Women Journalists Association (MKG), Turkish Press and Printing House Employees Union (DISK BASIN-IS), Turkish Journalists Union (TGS) called on international institutions to campaign for the release of arrested award-winning journalist Dicle Müftüoğlu.
 
Journalist professional organizations sent the call text they prepared to international press organizations and institutions working in the field of human rights.
 
SHE WAS ARRESTED ON WORLD PRESS FREEDOM DAY
 
The following statements were included in the campaign call text sent by journalistic professional organizations to international institutions: “Award-winning Kurdish journalist Dicle Müftüoğlu is a journalist known for her valuable work in the field of journalism as DFG Co-chair and Mezopotamya Agency (MA) editor. She was arrested and sent to prison on May 3, 2023, World Press Freedom Day.
 
Dicle Müftüoğlu was arrested in Diyarbakır on April 29, 2023, within the scope of the investigation carried out by the Ankara Chief Public Prosecutor's Office. An indictment was prepared against Müftüoğlu, who has been arrested in Sincan Women's Closed Prison for approximately 10 months, on charges of "being a member of an illegal organization" and "establishing and managing an illegal organization". However, when we examine the indictment, there is not a single accusation against Müftüoğlu in 41 pages of the 43-page indictment.
 
SHE WAS NOT RELEASED WITHOUT JUSTIFICATION IN TWO HEARINGS
 
At her hearings on December 14, 2023 and January 18, 2024, it was revealed that Müftüoğlu did not have any actions or activities within the scope of the file other than her journalistic activities. The whole public is aware of the pressures against Kurdish journalists in Turkey. Müftüoğlu is just one of these journalists under pressure who have been arrested and tried repeatedly. However, she appears to have been subjected to an indefinite sentence through long detention. In both hearings, the judge did not release her even though there was insufficient evidence for her to remain in prison.
 
Dicle Müftüoğlu will appear before the judge for the third time on February 29. Müftüoğlu has always protected and defended the principles and ethics of journalism while practicing her profession. Despite the difficulties and hardships that come with journalism, she devotedly continued her duty to inform the public. For this work, she was awarded the 'Most Resilient Journalist' award by the Netherlands-based Free Press Unlimited.
 
ATTACK ON FREEDOM OF THE PRESS
 
Müftüoğlu's arrest due to her journalism profession is a serious attack not only on himself, but also on freedom of the press and the fundamental values of democracy. In this context, we call on you to take steps to protect the rights of Dicle Müftüoğlu and all journalists and to help overcome these empty accusations. We expect you to launch an international campaign on February 29 to free Müftüoğlu before her trial.
 
We want it to be known that journalism is an integral part of democracy, and that protecting journalists means protecting freedom of expression and democracy. Necessary action must be taken, taking into account Dicle Müftüoğlu's case and the cases of other journalists in similar situations."
 
Attached to the text of the call, two separate reports about Müftüoğlu prepared by the MLSA Legal Unit and lawyer Resul Temur were shared.
 
The report prepared by the MLSA Legal Unit on the case was also included. The report is as follows;
 
Journalist and DFG Co-Chair Dicle Müftüğlü was arrested in the operation carried out by the Ankara Prosecutor's Office against Kurdish activists and politicians before the presidential elections in May 2023. She was brought to Ankara and arrested under very bad conditions. She was arrested by the Criminal Court of Peace on the charge of being a member of a terrorist organization. She has been in prison for 9 months and has appeared in court twice during this time. No concrete evidence was presented by the prosecutor's office to support the terrorism-related accusations, neither in the indictment nor during the trial. The case against journalist Dicle Müftüoğlu is a typical example of the Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation (SLAPP) filed with the aim of silencing Kurdish media critical of the government.
 
Müftüoğlu's long detention is an intimidation technique implemented by the government. The false case against her is a serious violation of the right to a fair trial and freedom of expression, with the aim of intimidating journalists covering local elections. In the case, Müftüoğlu's journalistic activities are portrayed as an act of 'terrorism', the indictment is nothing but value judgments. None of the evidence presented is acceptable in the modern legal system. The flaws and irregularities experienced from the beginning of the process violated Ms. Müftüoğlu's right to a fair trial.
 
INVESTIGATION PROCESS
 
The criminal investigation against Müftüoğlu started with a police raid on her home on April 28, 2023. The Criminal Court of Peace ruled to ban access to investigation files and ban lawyers. Their lawyers were not informed and could not appeal the ban. Müftüoğlu was prevented from meeting with her lawyers.
 
Meanwhile, she was approached by the police for an 'interview' without her lawyers being present, which is against the law. The prosecutor wanted her to be arrested without taking her statement. She was arrested and sent to prison by the Criminal Court of Peace without any concrete evidence being found about her. Lawyers repeatedly objected to the detention, but to no avail. She was handcuffed on the bus for 24 hours while being taken from Diyarbakır to Ankara within the scope of the investigation. She was starved and held in the dark during transport, in violation of the ban on ill-treatment.
 
LEGAL PROCEDURE
 
The first indictment was filed in Ankara as a multi-defendant trial. Ankara Court rejected the substantive and procedural indictment. After two dismissals, the case went to the Diyarbakir courts while she was in custody.
 
The indictment prepared in Diyarbakır has 43 pages, but only 2 pages are devoted to Müftüoğlu. The remaining part of the indictment (40 pages) contains information about the KCK and PKK organizations.
 
These two pages of the indictment are far from the requirements of a coherent legal indictment. Müftüoğlu is accused of 'membership of a terrorist organization'. However, the prosecution cannot present any direct or indirect evidence. Müftüoğlu is the editor of Mezopotamya Agency (MA). It is a legal entity registered in Turkey. In the indictment, work records and social security records at the legally registered Mezopotamya Agency were cited as evidence.
 
THE INDICTMENT IS BASED ON THE STATEMENTS OF THE SECRET WITNESS
 
The indictment alleges that Müftüoğlu participated in the civil and political activities of legal/illegal organizations affiliated with the PKK/KCK. The prosecution does not even explain which organizations are linked to PKK/KCK or which activities fall into this category. Müftüoğlu's phone records with other journalist friends were shown as evidence, but the prosecution did not even mention the content of these conversations. The indictment is based on the testimony of a secret witness. The secret witness had already admitted that she was a state agent working in the Kurdish press. The anonymous witness did not provide any specific examples or evidence proving terrorist activity.
 
IT'S A CRIME TO STAY IN THE SAME HOTEL WITH HER FATHER
 
It was claimed that Müftüoğlu visited Iraq in 2014. The lawyers presented medical records proving that the defendant was in the hospital after the traffic accident and could not travel in this state. Evidence of her alibi was not included in the indictment. The prosecution claims that Müftüoğlu used her civilian life as a cover for her 'organization' activities. A financial police report on her bank accounts and transactions was presented as evidence of organizational activity, but this report only included royalties for her published articles, monetary transactions with fellow journalists, and scholarship payments. In the indictment, her stay in the same hotel with her father was cited as evidence of a crime.
 
CALL TO HEARING ON 29 FEBRUARY
 
Müftüoğlu's imprisonment has been objected many times. At the first hearing of the case on December 7, the panel of judges decided to temporarily detain Veysel Ok, her lawyer, who was present in the courtroom, before allowing him to make his defence. Müftüoğlu has been arrested without being able to carry out her journalistic activities for more than nine months. She was awarded the 'Most Resilient Journalist' award by FreePressUnlimited. Müftüoğlu's next hearing will be held on February 29, 2024. We invite the international community to show solidarity with Mrs. Müftüoğlu.”

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