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Turkey detains journalist over pro-Kurdish tweets

Turkish authorities briefly detained a pro-Kurdish journalist over his tweets he made last year about Ankara's ongoing conflict with Kurdish militants. The arrest comes amid mounting alarm over press freedom in Turkey.

Hamza Aktan, news editor of the pro-Kurdish IMC TV, was arrested Saturday morning by masked and armed policemen from his home in Istanbul, the channel said in a statement on its website.

The chief news editor of the channel was released under judicial control after 12 hours but still faces allegations of being involved in "terrorist propaganda."

The journalist was interrogated by police over tweets he had shared in 2015, including retweets of two pro-Kurdish analysts.

"Judicial control, like detention, is a form of punishment," the IMC quoted Aktan as saying after his release. "This is right neither for a journalist nor as a citizen. This is a challenge to freedom of expression," he added.

Aktan is a prominent Turkish journalist and author of the book, "The Kurdish Citizen." The IMC is an independent broadcaster popular mostly in the Kurdish southeast of the country.

Press under siege?

A local journalists' union condemned Aktan's brief detention as an "attack on the freedom of expression."

Earlier this year, media watchdog Reporters Without Borders downgraded Ankara on its Press Freedom Index two places. Turkey is ranked 151 out of 180 countries on this index.

Concern has been growing about the

treatment of reporters under President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Trials for insulting the president have been on the rise since 2014. There are 20,000 such cases currently open.

On Thursday, a Turkish court sentenced journalists Hikmet Cetinkaya and Ceyda Karan to

two years in jail for republishing cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad

from the French monthly Charlie Hebdo.

shs/jr (AFP, dpa)

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