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Turkish journalists arrested after reporting death of Intel agent in Libya


Media rights activists have condemned the detention of two journalists in Turkey after reporting that an intelligence agent was among the Turkish soldiers killed in operations in Libya.

Baris Terkoglu, news director for OdaTV, was arrested early Tuesday morning on the orders of the Istanbul prosecutor's office.

Hulya Kilinc, the journalist who wrote the story, was reportedly arrested on Wednesday.

According to the OdaTV website, the arrests came as a result of a article who revealed photos of a member of the National Intelligence Organization (MIT) of Turkey who was among the first Turkish soldiers kill during military operations in Libya.

The website quoted Terkoglu's lawyer as saying that he had "neither seen the charge clause regarding Baris Terkoglu nor seen the detention order".

"This is an arbitrary measure used to intimidate the editorial position of the website"

– Erol Onderoglu, Reporters Without Borders

Turkey first sent Syrian soldiers and fighters to Libya in January to help strengthen the UN-backed Government of National Accord (GNA), which was attacked by loyal forces to military commander Khalifa Haftar.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said last week that there had been "two martyrs in Libya" but declined to reveal further details.

OdaTV editor-in-chief Baris Pehlivan critical the arrests on Twitter, pointing out that other media had already reported the identity of the MIT agent after being revealed by an MP.

Speaking In the country's parliament last week, IYI party deputy Umit Ozdag said the two soldiers killed in Libya were MIT officers and named them.

He also asked why their funeral had been kept quiet and their identity withheld.

Erol Onderoglu, Turkish representative of Reporters Without Borders (RSF), told Middle East Eye that the arrest of Terkoglu was an attempt to "intimidate" OdaTV, which he said has long been a thorn in the side of the government.

"The government is not satisfied with the editorial line defended by OdaTV for years with regard to the old coalition and cooperation between the government and Fethullah Gulen," he said, referring to to a former ally of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP). ) who is currently in exile in the United States.

"It is therefore an arbitrary measure used to intimidate the editorial position of the site."

A story of arrest

Terkoglu had already been arrested in 2011, along with many other OdaTV employees, as part of the investigations of Ergenekon, court cases brought by Gülen supporters within the Turkish judicial system.

He spent 19 months in prison before being released.

AKP and Erdogan, who were Gulen's allies at the time of Terkoglu's arrest, have since collapsed, the former accusing the latter of the 2016 coup attempt.

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OdaTV report pointed out that shortly before his arrest, the Turkish Association of Progressive Journalists awarded Terkoglu and Pehlivan an award for their book Metastasis which details how the vacuum left by the mass purge of the gulenists in Turkish institutions was filled by another Islamic sect, Menzil.

Opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) MP criticized Terkoglu's arrest, saying it should not be surprising that the identities of the two killed are revealed after the reference of Erdogan about them.

"The government should not look elsewhere for the main security concerns that its foreign policy imposes on our country and should stop targeting journalists," Yuksel Mansur Kilinc, also a member of the Security and Safety Commission, told the daily. information from Parliament. Sozcu.

"Terkoglu should be released immediately.

Terkoglu and Hulya Kilinc are not the first journalists to be arrested in Turkey, accused of revealing state secrets.

Can Dundar, former editor-in-chief of the opposition newspaper Cumhuriyet, fled to Germany in 2016 after being found guilty of spying for a story about MIT arms shipments to Syrian rebels.

Turkey has been regularly described as the world's worst jailer of journalists by media advocacy organizations.

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