Turkish prosecutor requests acquittal of Dutch reporter

The case against her highlighted concerns about press freedom in Turkey under President Recep Tayyip Erdogan

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A Turkish prosecutor on Wednesday requested the acquittal of a Dutch journalist specializing in Kurdish issues who was accused of “terrorist propaganda” for the banned Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).

Frederike Geerdink, who is based in the Kurdish-majority southeastern city of Diyarbakir, had been briefly detained in January after authorities raided her home.

She was then charged with publishing material in support of the PKK, charges which could have seen her jailed for up to five years and sparked international concern.

However as the trial got underway at a Diyarbakir criminal court, prosecutors immediately asked for an acquittal of Geerdink and the hearing was adjourned after just one hour.

The “prosecutor just pleaded for my acquittal”, Geerdink wrote on Twitter, in comments confirmed by Turkish news reports. She added her lawyer was satisfied with the prosecutor’s move.

The judge, who now is widely expected to acquit the reporter, will read the final verdict on Monday, she added.

The case against her highlighted concerns about press freedom in Turkey under President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, where a host of public figures are facing legal proceedings on charges of insulting the president.

Geerdink said ahead of the trial opening that she was not sure why the charges had been laid against her but was confident of being acquitted.

“If the judge does what he is supposed to do he will acquit me,” she told AFP.

“What I have written cannot in any way be considered propaganda. The accusations are very random. I could not have been any more meticulous in my work.”

Geerdink, who moved to Turkey in 2006, has been based in Diyarbakir since 2012 and specialises in writing about the Kurds.

Her articles have been published in Dutch and English-language media and also the anti-government Turkish news website Diken (diken.com.tr).

The case also came as the government and Kurdish leaders are seeking to end the decades-long insurgency in the southeast by the PKK for self-rule and greater rights for Kurds that has claimed tens of thousands of lives.

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