Prison guards beat journalist arrested for report on funeral of intelligence agent – lawyer

The Turkish journalist Barış Pehlivan was beaten by prison guards upon his entrance to Silivri Prison, said Cumhuriyet on Sunday citing Pehlivan’s lawyer Hüseyin Ersöz. 

“Pehlivan told the lawyers who visited him about the mistreatment. We will file a criminal complaint on the issue,” said Ersöz. 

Barış Pehlivan, editor-in-chief for critical news outlet OdaTV, was arrested on Friday over a report covering the funeral of a high-ranking Turkish intelligence officer who died in Libya. 

Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office in Istanbul denied the allegations that Pehlivan was beaten by prison guards. 

“The incident was looked into by Silivri Prison Prosecutor’s Office. Following the examinations and reviews of security footage, it was concluded that Pehlivan was not battered or subjected to mistreatment, whether it be verbal or physical,” the statement read on March 7.

Yeniçağ columnist Murat Ağırel, Yeni Yaşam editor-in-chief Ferhat Çelik, and the daily’s news editor Aydın Keser were detained on Sunday over the same story. 

OdaTV news director Barış Terkoğlu and journalist Hülya Kılınç had been arrested over the same report on Wednesday.

The arrests were condemned by 40 bar associations in a statement, said Duvar.

“Our Constitution says that the press is free and can’t be censored. Journalism is not a crime,” the bar associations' statement read.

Press freedom in Turkey has seen a sharp decline in recent years, and the country has become the world’s biggest jailer of professional journalists, with year-long pre-trial detentions and long jail sentences being common occurrences.