Journalists say Turkish police beat them, threatened rape during raid

A group of journalists said Turkish police beat them and threatened them with rape during a raid on the office of a pro-Kurdish newspaper in Istanbul.

Turkish police conducted a raid on Özgür Gündem newspaper to shut it down on Aug. 16, 2016, after a Turkish court ordered its temporary closure, accusing it of links with Kurdish militants and spreading terrorist propaganda.

During the raid, police detained 22 journalists, including reporters from other outlets who were at the scene to report the raid.

Prosecutors charged the reporters with resisting arrest and insulting officers.

At the first hearing on Friday, nine of the journalists said riot police officers beat them during their arrest and threatened one with rape, Turkish newspaper Cumhuriyet said.

“As I was taken downstairs in handcuffs, a plain-clothes officer hit me in the back with a metal bar. When I protested, he threatened to rape me,” Gülfem Karataş, a reporter for the Turkish left-leaning television channel IMC TV was quoted by Cumhuriyet as telling the court.

The police attacked journalists during the raid and shouted, “you will see the power of the (Turkish) state,” another journalist, Reyhan Hacıoğlu, told the court according to Cumhuriyet.

“I am tried as a suspect, but instead I should be heard as a witness here,” she said.

The court ordered the official police video recordings of the raid to be provided, and three police officers who are plaintiffs against the journalists be present at the next hearing on June 29, Cumhuriyet said.

The Turkish government permanently shut down Özgür Gündem in Oct. 2016, along with nine more newspapers and two pro-Kurdish news agencies.

IMC TV was also shut down along with 11 more TV channels by a government decree on Sept. 2016.

The number of media outlets shut down by the Turkish government under emergency rule has reached 190, while 157 journalists remain in jail, according to the data collected by independent journalism platform P24.