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Kurdish journalists demand release of "political hostages"

KURDISH journalists in Turkey have called for the release of jailed media workers, accusing the government of retaining them as “political hostages” despite the expected release of 100,000 prisoners to combat the spread of coronavirus.

Mesopotamian Women Journalists’ spokeswoman Ayse Guney accused the Turkish state of opportunism, as media workers are kept behind bars while thousands jailed for sex crimes and violence against women are set to be released.

The Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) demanded the release of all political prisoners in the light of the coronavirus.

Around a third of Turkey’s 300,000 prisoners are set to be freed under government proposals, with women’s groups warning that the release list includes paedophiles and rapists, placing women and children at risk.

Kurdish journalist Resad Sorgul said that holding journalists as “political hostages” amounted to continued persecution.

Jin News spokeswoman Gulistan Azak blasted the government for ignoring medical experts, legal professional associations and human-rights activists.

“Journalists should be covering news with their cameras and pens, not in prisons,” she said.

Turkey is the world’s leading jailer of journalists, with a third of the global total.

Accurate figures are hard to ascertain but press-freedom groups in the country estimate at least 200 journalists are behind bars.

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