Turkey Bombs Reporters in Syria and 7 Other Times Press Targeted for Investigating Islamic State
1. Feb 29 2016: Journalists come under attack near Syria-Turkey border region
Earlier this week, a team of foreign journalists was wounded by artillery fire while reporting on the proxy war in Syria. Credible reports are blaming Turkey’s military for the attack which happened in an area just freed by Syria’s government forces.
Four journalists from China, Canada, Bulgaria and Russia were wounded along the Syria-Turkey border as a result of heavy artillery fire, Russian news agency RIA Novosti quoted Moscow’s defense ministry as saying on Tuesday.
RIA Novosti said the ministry reported the journalists were injured in the village of Kinsibba by shelling coming from the town of Bidama and elsewhere along Syria’s border with Turkey.
The ministry described the conditions of the wounded journalists as fair, according to the news agency. Shortly before, Syria’s state news agency said several members of a group of foreign journalists were wounded by mortars fired from the Turkish side of the border and that the area targeted had recently been seized from rebel forces.
2. Rami Jarrah (February 2016)
The reasons for the arrest of Rami Jarrah are unclear although a journalist familiar with the case, but who asked not to be identified, told the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) that he was questioned about his journalistic work .
Jarrah, who once used the name Alexander Page when reporting from Syria, lived most of his life in London before going to Damascus in 2004. After fleeing Syria in 2011, he co-founded a citizen journalist group, ANA Press, which provides filmed reports to international outlets.
He has regularly risked his life by crossing into Syria to report on the aftermath of Russian military strikes and atrocities committed by Isis. One of his reports, after a bombing raid on Aleppo in December, can be seen here
3. Naji Jerf (December 2015)
REPORTERS WITHOUT BORDERS
Reporters Without Borders (RSF) is appalled by Syrian journalist Naji Jerf’s murder yesterday in southeastern Turkey. Jerf had told RSF about the threats he had been getting and had just obtained a visa for France, to which he had planned to move next month.
Jerf was gunned down in broad daylight in Gaziantep, where he had worked for the past three years. The founder and editor of the opposition magazine Henta, he had made several films about atrocities by both Islamic State and the Syrian government.
RSF was in close touch with Jerf and supported his visa application. He had dreamed of offering his two daughters the “level of higher education” available in France.
In his visa application letter, he said he feared for his safety and would like to live in a country that “respects human rights.” France gave him the protection he sought but his killers acted before he left.
4. Cumhurriyet journalists arrested for reporting on a weapons shipment to Syria by Turkey’s MIT spy agency (November 2015)
Editors Can Dundar and Erdem Gul were arrested in November 2015 for publishing photos and video of weapons shipments being sent by intelligence officers to opposition fighters in Syria. The Turkish government lied about the incident at first, claiming the trucks were carrying humanitarian aid.
The two have been released pending trial after the country’s top court found their rights were violated. Dundar and Gul still face the original charges of intentionally aiding an armed terrorist organisation and publishing material in violation of state security.
The situation was best explained by Dundar himself in an opinion article for England’s Guardian newspaper, written in December 2015 after his arrest.
Early in 2014, a truck understood to belong to the Turkish intelligence service (MIT) was stopped near the Syrian border. The gendarmerie and the intelligence officials in control of the convoy pulled guns on each other. This was the moment the two blocks vying to rule the state came face to face. The truck was searched. Beneath the camouflage composed of medicines boxes, weapons and ammunition were found. The truck was held for a while, but following the intervention of government officials a safe passage into Syria was granted.
The government immediately discharged the prosecutor and gendarmerie who stopped the convoy and had them arrested. It was declared that the trucks contained humanitarian aid. This incident, which fuelled allegations that President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s government was intervening in the Syrian civil war, was rapidly covered up.
5. American Reporter Serena Shim murdered in Turkey after accused of being a spy (October 2014)
American reporter Serena Shim was killed in Turkey while reporting on the heavy battles in the Syrian border city of Kobani. Serena Shim was investigating the thousands of foreign fighters that have crossed the Turkish border to fight in the Syrian proxy war and in the process uncovered evidence of secret western assistance to the Islamic State. It is not known what date the footage recorded or what happened to it as all of her property was seized, including her passport and wedding ring which were never returned by Turkish authorities.
Two days before her death, Shim had reported on live television that she was under investigation by the Turkish intelligence service MIT for being a spy based on her reports on the war. According to her live report on PressTV, Millî İstihbarat Teşkilatı, MİT, had been looking for Shim in border regions of Suruç and instructed residents to alert them if they saw Shim in the area. She also noted that her reporting specifically in the area of Hatay where many fighters travel into Northwest Syria. This area was featured in a November 2013 report by CNN describing the flow of foreign fighters.
In the days before her death, Serena Shim had been reporting on the siege in Kobani where the Syrian Kurds and the remaining Syrian military forces were fighting Islamic State terrorists. The Turkish government was aware of her presence in Turkey and Syria, however Serena Shim was a skilled undercover reporter who could travel without being noticed.
6. Rossiya 1 journalists arrested, deported (December 2015)
On Monday, the press crew of the TV program ‘Special Correspondent’, headed by Alexander Buzaladze, were detained in southeastern Turkey by authorities in civilian clothes. The journalists were preparing an investigative report into the alleged smuggling of Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) oil into Turkey.
The trouble for the Rossiya 1 TV crew started only once they arrived at the border, Buzaladze said after the deportation. He told Russian state-owned channel Vesti that while the crew worked in Istanbul and Ankara they had faced no opposition from the authorities.
But as soon as they and tried to film close to the Turkish-Syrian border the crew was “blocked [by] the Turkish security forces” leaving them no time to even “get the camera out.”
Turkish authorities were first of all concerned “whether we had a camera,” Buzaladze says.
“The first thing they wanted to know [was] if we had a camera. The camera was left in the luggage compartment, locked in a case. Despite this, they took our documents, we were taken to the police station, later we photographed, fingerprinted, brought to the doctor for a medical examination to confirm that we are in a sane state, and that we are alive and well,” the journalist said.
7. VICE journalists arrested while reporting on Kurds (August 2015)
“During their captivity the men were questioned over alleged links to both the so-called Islamic State group and PKK militants, and later formally charged by a Turkish court with “working on behalf of a terrorist organisation”… ”
The Vice News group were arrested as they drove to their hotel after filming violent clashes between the police and Kurdish youths in Diyarbakir.
Mr Hanrahan, from Northampton, said: “About 20 police officers just jumped off the steps, just swarmed the car, took us in, and searched our rooms and eventually just told us you’ve been arrested for terror offences.
“And then that night we were taken and put in solitary cells”.
The men were held in various prisons – including at a high-security “F-type” facility more than five hours from the court where they were instructed to appear. They were allowed to stay together in a cell, but were given no contact with their family and friends
“We were treated as well as can be expected in a foreign prison – it could have been much worse. A lot of the guards inside the prison were quite sympathetic towards us and kind of understood that we were innocent,” Mr Hanrahan said.
8. British reporter Jacky Sutton found hanged in Istanbul airport bathroom (October 2015)
Sutton was investigating the Islamic State oil trade which is heavily linked to Turkey and the top officials, including President Erdogan’s son Bilal.
A former BBC journalist found hanged in a airport may NOT have committed suicide, a Turkish policeman has said.
Jacky Sutton, 50, was found hanged in the toilets at Istanbul’s Ataturk airport on Saturday.
Mystery surrounds the fate of the renowned foreign correspondent.
It was reported that she was “distressed” after missing a connecting flight but friends expressed disbelief that she would kill herself.
Now, speaking to the Daily Mail, a police officer, who remained anonymous, said: “We are not certain that it is a sucide. Her death is still being investigated. It’s suspicious.”
CCTV footage showing Ms Sutton’s final moments raised more questions over her unexplained death.