Kurdish journalist arrested in crackdown ahead of anniversary for Öcalan capture

Journalist Zeynep Durgut from pro-Kurdish Mezopotamya news agency was arrested in a home raid in Turkey’s southeastern Şırnak province on Monday, ahead of Tuesday’s anniversary of the capture of Abdullah Öcalan, the imprisoned leader of the outlawed Kurdistan Worker's Party (PKK).

Durgut was among scores who were arrested in police raids across the country on the same day, as a “preventive measure” before Tuesday’s anniversary, a date that usually marked by protests demanding Öcalan’s release, the agency reported on Tuesday.

The PKK leader is serving a life term and being kept in solitary confinement on the İmralı Prison island in northwestern Turkey since 1999, on charges of treason for leading the armed group, which has been fighting for Kurdish autonomous rights in southeast Turkey for almost four decades.

Öcalan was initially received a death sentence, which was subsequently commuted to life in prison when Turkey abolished the death penalty in 2004 as part of its efforts to join the European Union.

The reason for Durgut’s detention is not clear, due to the confidentiality decision brought against her file, Mezopotamya said.

"Why was a journalist detained as part of a preventive measure,” Serdar Altan, co-chair of the Tigris Euphrates Journalists Association (DFG) told the agency.

Detaining Durgut is aimed to prevent the news she will make and the reflection of the developments to the public, Altan said, urging the authorities for the journalist’s immediate release.

Mezopotamya often finds itself at odds with the official government narrative on the Kurdish conflict, and is frequently accused of news coverage that benefits the PKK, an act punishable by several years in prison under Turkey’s extensive anti-terror laws.

Making propaganda, “in a manner that would encourage a terrorist organisation to resort to violence” is punishable by up to five years in prison, which can be doubled if the crime is committed via the media, according to Turkey’s Anti-terror Act.

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