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Journalists jailed in Turkey after revealing name of intelligence official killed in Libya

JOURNALISTS in Turkey vowed to continue their work today despite a fresh wave of attacks on press freedom, this time for exposing the state’s intelligence operations in Libya.

Yeni Yasam managing editor Mehment Ferhat Celik, who was among 28 media workers detained in the last fortnight, warned that there were “political motives” behind his arrest.

Yenicag Daily columnist Murat Agirel, Mr Celik and Yeni Yasam editor-in-chief Aydin Keser were among those held over news reports on the funeral of a high-ranking intelligence officer killed in Libya.

OdaTV news director Baris Terkoglu and journalist Hulya Kilic were also detained last Friday after the channel ran a news report and images of the ceremony in Manisa province.

A court ruled that they had endangered lives by naming the dead intelligence officer, despite his identity already being revealed in the Turkish parliament.

The detentions sparked outrage in Turkey, with complaints over attacks on press freedom even coming from the nationalist Iyi Party, which held a demonstration outside its Istanbul offices earlier this week.

Yeni Yasam is linked to the Mesopotamya Agency, which provides news to progressive media organisations across Turkey, particularly focusing on the country’s Kurdish question.

The agency is frequent targeted by the state and more than 20 of its associated journalists are currently behind bars. 

Sources told the Star today that it fears closure after two senior members of its editorial team were held in the latest wave of detentions.

Speaking from his prison cell today, Mr Celik said that in his 30 years as a journalist, he has seen “murders by unknown killers, bombings, torture” and courts imposing prison sentences of up to 10 years as the government attacks press freedom. 

He insisted that his arrest was clearly “politically motivated” and not legal.

“The judge who arrested me showed his aggressive attitude during the trial, shouting and calling security, banging his hand on the tables…”

However, claiming that Turkey’s ruling class was in trouble and that the fall of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan was now imminent, Mr Celik called on journalists to continue writing the truth.

Journalists at the newspaper demanded his immediate release and said they refused to be intimidated by the arrests.

Hasan Akbaba said: “Yeni Yasam will continue to write the truth no matter what. Journalism is  about making note of history. We will continue to do that despite all pressures. We will continue to carry on the torch of [murdered Kurdish journalist] Musa Anter.”

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