Press Freedom

A message from the arrested journalists: ‘That microphone belongs to all of us!’

MLSA’s Legal Unit visited the journalists who were arrested on June 16 after they were held in custody for eight days. The journalists, who have been transferred to the Diyarbakır D-Type High Security Prison, told MLSA that the unlawfulness, which had already started during the custody and investigation process, has continued throughout their transfer to and imprisonment in the high security prison. 

Journalist Serdar Altan, who reported that their spirits were high and that they got to personally experience the unlawfulness that they have been familiar with for a long time now, said: “We know that we were arrested for doing journalism, and they know that, too. The government is in a position in which it can no longer bear any voice other than its own. Our voice, the voice that we brought from the streets, villages and cities to the public, disturbed them. But we are journalists. This is our job. We do not trouble ourselves with who will be bothered and who will not. A voice itself is news for us. Whom this voice will bother is not our decision to make and neither that of those in power; it’s the decision of the public whose voice we carry.” 

Journalist Mehmet Ali Ertaş shared with MLSA that they were made to sign documents which had no legal explanation at all. He further stated: “The custody, the custody extension and the subsequent arrest order…None of them had a legal explanation. Honestly, encountering such unlawfulness even after being transferred to prison did not surprise me. The entire arrest was unlawful. And of course, the process in prison was going to be unlawful, too.” Recounting that after being brought to prison, they were asked of which organization they were a member or sympathizer and that they were asked to sign a form about this, Ertaş explained: “We are journalists. They know that. However, they are urged to ground the prosecutor’s baseless claims.” He further added: “Those in power say, ‘There is only one microphone and only the one who is on my side can hand that microphone to people in my corner. No! This microphone belongs to all of us, the entire public, the people…” 

Journalist Aziz Oruç, who could not make sense of the questions the prosecutor asked him during the investigation, stated: “The prosecutor listed a number of questions, starting from what the answers from people I interviewed in the past meant up to why I was interested in specific topics. Later, he also showed me a photo that was taken from the file of a previous case in which I was tried. Both me and my lawyers noted that this was “repetitive” and that the questions asked were not legal, but an arrest warrant was issued nevertheless. I know that I have been arrested for doing journalism. The previous proceedings against me were like this, too; without justification, without evidence… Past trials did not make me leave the journalistic profession, this one will not do so either. Even though we are behind bars, we will continue to make news.”

The journalists, who stated that they feel empowered by the solidarity shown to them, reported that they had difficulties in accessing television, radio and newspapers in the high security prison and that therefore, they would like to receive more letters. The journalists who have been under arrest for 33 days, are detained in Diyarbakir 1 and 2 High Security Prisons.