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Fears raised over safety of Kurdish media-freedom campaigner after police detain him

CONCERNS were raised for the safety of veteran Kurdish media-freedom campaigner Hakki Boltan after he was detained during a police raid on his home in Turkey’s south-eastern city of Diyarbakir yesterday.

He was taken into custody along with Peoples’ Democratic Party official Abdurrahim Alcicek as security officials swooped on homes in the city centre and the Baglar and Yenisehir districts.

Mr Boltan was reportedly released under restrictions late today, but the Star was unable to reach him before the paper went to press. 

It is not clear what charges have been brought against the pair: HDP officials and journalists are often picked up on trumped-up terrorism charges.

Mr Boltan is the founder of the Free Journalists Initiative, which campaigns for press freedom and supports jailed media workers.

He works closely with international media organisations, including British-based group Journalists for Democracy in Turkey and Kurdistan, which was founded on the initiative of National Union of Journalists (NUJ) members at the Morning Star.

Mr Boltan has been detained frequently by the authorities because of his work and criticism of the Turkish state.

Last year, he was charged with “insulting the president” and “insulting a public official” for a statement made in Kurdish about the former editor of the now closed Azadiya Welat newspaper Rohat Aktas, who was killed in the 2016 basement fires in Cizre.

He faces a combined six-year jail sentence and appeared in court last November for the first hearing.

NUJ general secretary Michelle Stanistreet told the Star: “The union is very concerned about the safety of Hakki Boltan, who was apparently taken by the authorities during a raid on his home.

“The NUJ and International Federation of Journalists have worked with Hakki in lobbying for the protection of journalists’ rights and freedom in Turkey. The union is anxious to hear news about Hakki.”

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