Journalists arrested for reporting on funeral of intelligence agent kept in solitary confinement

Six journalists arrested last week over a report covering the funeral of a high-ranking Turkish intelligence officer who died in Libya are kept in solitary confinement, main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) deputy Utku Çakırözer said on Wednesday.

"All of the press workers should be released immediately. Keeping them in solitary confinement is also an other purpose of punishment," Bianet quoted Çakırözer as saying.

Editor-in-chief for news outlet OdaTV, Barış Pehlivan, columnist for Yeniçağ newspaper, Murat Ağırel, and the managing editor of Yeni Yaşam newspaper, Ferhat Çelik, and its editor-in-chief, Aydın Keser, were arrested on March 8 for covering the funeral of the agent.

OdaTV news director Barış Terkoğlu and reporter Hülya Kılıç were arrested on the same charges last week after the news outlet showed footage of the funeral in the western province of Manisa.

"It is clear that the issue is beyond the funeral of an intelligence agent, it is a matter of intimidating and silencing the press. All of these journalists, who are authors, correspondents, and directors in Odatv, Yeniçağ, Yeni Yaşam newspapers, should immediately be released from the prison," Çakırözer said.

Solitary confinement in Turkey is reserved for inmates who are sentenced to life imprisonment without parole or convicted of terrorism charges but is being arbitrarily used by prison authorities.

Authorities may legally keep prisoners in solitary confinement for a maximum of 20 days for disciplinary reasons, but Faruk Gergerlioğlu, a member of parliament for the pro-Kurdish opposition Peoples' Democratic Party, said that hundreds of prisoners were being kept in isolation for up to 26 months.