American reporter on the Kurdish issue is arrested in Turkey
Jake Hess, an American journalist, has been arrested in Turkey, facing accusations that he has links with the illegal organization, Kurdish Communities Union, or KCK. He has also been accused of leaking information to U.S. authorities about the conditions in some provinces along the border with Iraq, reported the Turkish daily newspaper, Hurriyet. Hess had just recently published an article on the condition of Kurdish refugees affected by ongoing Turkish bombing of Iraq’s border region before he crossed back into Turkey. (See Hess’s article at AntiWar.com) His lawyer has denied all the charges against him.
Hess has been accused of collaborating with around 150 Kurdish activists who are currently in Turkish prisons for political reasons. He was also accused of working with Muharem Erbey, deputy chairman of the Human Rights Association, or Ä°HD – a lawful organization in Turkey that largely documents human rights abuses against the country’s Kurdish population.
Jake Hess’s lawyer, Serkan AkbaÅŸ, denied all allegations against his client and said that Hess is no longer even working with the Ä°HD. He explained that Hess had previously done some translating work for the group but was no longer involved with them.
Hess will likely be deported by Turkish officials. However, there is a chance that he may be detained for a longer period pending a court trial.
Americans are generally not detained in Turkey as the Turkish government prefers not to disturb its relations with the United States. The U.S. and Turkey have strong diplomatic ties and a relationship that only rivals the U.S. relationship with Israel. The U.S. has recently been caught between some strain in relations between its two allies, Turkey and Israel, after the flotilla incident in which nine Turks were killed by Israeli security forces earlier this year. Israel and Turkey traditionally have had a very strong military and political relationship.
Hess had just recently published an article on Antiwar.com that reported on Kurdish refugees that had been displaced as a result of Iranian and Turkish bombardments against their villages along the border with Iraq.
The Turkish government introduced a project last year to give more rights to its Kurdish population, which has been the subject of brutal policies by the Turkish state. Despite the project, hundreds of Kurdish politicians have been detained in recent months for political reasons and the largest pro-Kurdish party – the DTP – was shut down for alleged links to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or PKK. The court found the DTP guilty based on a number of public speeches given by DTP members in which they called for the Turkish government to negotiate with the PKK to solve the Kurdish issue peacefully.
The Turkish government refuses to negotiate with the PKK because it describes the group as a terrorist organization.