Nine journalists arrested in Turkey on Tuesday were charged under anti-terror legislation, a detainee’s family member said, though charges have not been confirmed. Reporters Without Borders are closely monitoring the situation. Meanwhile, MEPs speak out against both the arrests in Turkey and simultaneous overnight raids on Kurdish TV stations in Belgium.

On 23 April Turkish police arrested nine Kurdish journalists in Istanbul, Urfa and Ankara. On the same day, an overnight raid was carried out by hundreds of police at the offices of Kurdish TV channels Stêrk TV and Medya Haber in Brussels. Meanwhile, in Paris, police raided the Kurdish Community Centre and the homes of several members of the Kurdish community. The Belgian Federal Prosecutor claimed the raids were carried out at the request of French judicial authorities to gather evidence for an investigation into alleged terror financing.

The nine arrested journalists, from Mezopotamya Agency and the Yeni Yaşam newspaper, were denied access to their lawyers for 24 hours, according to the Media and Law Studies Association (MLSA). A relative of one of the detained journalists told Agence France Presse (AFP) that the arrests were “part of an investigation opened in 2022” for alleged “terrorist activities.”

Reporters Without Borders said it is “monitoring the situation closely.”

The raids on Kurdish TV stations in Belgium and journalist arrests in Turkey have caused outcry across Europe from advocates of free speech, democracy, and the rule of law.

Lawyers for the Brussels-based Kurdish TV channels plan to take the Federal Prosecutor and police to court for the damage caused in the “brutal raid”. Moreover, the accusations of terror financing were contrary to a previous ruling of the Belgian Supreme Court, lawyer Jan Fermon stressed.

The arrests are widely seen as part of the Turkish state’s long-term crackdown on press freedom. Turkey is currently the 10th biggest jailer of journalists in the world, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists (CFJ), having taken first place on the list five times in recent years.

Nikolaj Villumsen, an MEP representing Denmark’s Red-Green Alliance, posted on X, “We need to defend media freedom against the onslaught of authoritarianism – whether it is from Russia or Turkey,” adding, “Journalists should be protected – not arrested!”


Özlem Alev Demirel, an MEP for the German Die Linke party and Vice-Chair of the Delegation to the EU-Turkey Joint Parliamentary Committee, published a statement in support of those detained: “It is a disgrace that the Belgian state is interfering with the freedom of the press in this way. I expect Stêrk TV and Medya Haber TV to be allowed to broadcast again immediately – and for the Belgian government to take a stand on the actions of the police authorities.”

Demirel argued that Turkish President Erdoğan has leveraged the silencing of the Kurdish press in Europe to avoid public scrutiny of its imminent large-scale military operations in Iraqi Kurdistan. The MEP also said the repressive tactics were likely part of a “vendetta” enacted by the Turkish government in response to the success of its rivals in recent local elections, including gains won by the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Equality and Democracy Party (DEM).