Three YouTube journalists known for their candid street interviews who were detained on Sunday after police raided their homes were ordered to remain under house arrest and subjected to a travel ban by a court on Monday, Turkish media reported.
The detention of Hasan Köksoy, Arif Kocabıyık and Mehmet Koyuncu sparked outrage among opposition politicians, journalists and activists. While the reason for Kocabıyık and Koyuncu’s detention was not disclosed, Köksoy was taken into custody after a complaint was filed by Mücahit Birinci. a member of the ruling Justice and Development Party’s 50-seat Central Decision and Executive Board (MKYK).
Kocabıyık, who spoke to Radio Sputnik on Monday night, said the court was making fun of them with its decision, which prevents them from leaving their homes and hence doing their job.
“Their real goal is to prevent street interviews. They are taking action to stop them. We are on the street and make our living there. Why were we given house arrest? Our lawyer asked for judicial probation for us instead of house arrest, but [in what looks like a bad joke] they imposed house arrest on us,” said Kocabıyık.
He also said more than 100 investigations have been launched into him due to the street interviews he’s conducted, with a third of them related to accusations of insulting the president, which is a crime under the Turkish Penal Code (TCK).
The Turkish government has been trying to keep the press under control by imprisoning journalists, eliminating media outlets, overseeing the purchase of media brands by pro-government conglomerates and using regulatory authorities to exert financial pressure.
Following the state-led takeover of the mainstream media, social media platforms as well as online news sites remain among the last bastions of critical journalism in Turkey. YouTube journalism has been particularly popular, with many young journalists conducting street interviews around the country asking people their opinions on timely topics.
Turkey was ranked 153rd among 180 countries in the 2021 World Press Freedom Index released by Reporters Without Borders (RSF) in April.