Turkish court to deport American journalist, says lawyer
Monday, August 16, 2010
ISTANBUL - Daily News with wires

An American journalist detained because of alleged links to outlawed organizations in Southeast Turkey is set to be deported, according to the man’s lawyer, the Anatolia news agency reported late Sunday.

Jake Hess faced accusations that he had links to the outlawed Kurdish Communities Union, or KCK, and had leaked information to U.S. security services after it was revealed that his name was mentioned in letters written between accused KCK suspects.

After being questioned for four days at the Diyarbakır Police Department, Hess was sent to a court that ordered him deported. He will stay in a police facility until his removal from the country.

Hess, 25, was accused of collaborating with around 150 Kurdish activists currently in prison and whose names feature in a case file about the KCK, which is alleged to be the urban wing of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or PKK. The PKK is listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the United States and the European Union.

The American from Hampton, New Hampshire, moved to Turkey roughly two years ago, where he began teaching English and covering stories about the Kurdish issue from Diyarbakır.

Chris Caesar, a childhood friend, said in an e-mail that Hess recently began writing as a freelancer for the Inter Press Service, or IPS, news organization, which focuses on international reporting, the Boston Globe wrote on its website Sunday.

Two of his articles had been published on the IPS website.

“He has a master’s degree from Brown and could probably do all sorts of work, but moved to Turkey about two years ago to do human-rights work,’’ said Caesar. Hess is a 2007 graduate of Suffolk University, according to the Boston Globe.

“He is a good, peaceful and principled guy,” Caesar said. “The idea that he is helping the PKK is simply beyond ridiculous... We’d crack up if he wasn’t in a Turkish prison.”

The Committee to Protect Journalists called Friday for Turkish authorities to release Hess. The group quoted his lawyer, Serkan Akbaş, as saying that Hess “wrote several articles that angered the authorities.”

Police officials in Diyarbakır told the Anatolia news agency Friday that “Hess is not a journalist, and might be deported.”

In addition to the charge of collaboration with the KCK, Hess is also accused of leaking information about Southeast provinces via mail to the United States. Turkish authorities further said his name was found in some suspicious letters written to the United Nations and to various European countries.

Akbaş rejected all accusations against Hess including that his client had worked for Muharrem Erbey, the deputy chairman of the Human Rights Association, or İHD. Erbey has also been arrested in connection with the KCK case, the Doğan news agency reported.

Hess had worked as a translator for the association in the past but is not currently involved with the group, Akbaş said, adding that his client’s relationship with the İHD extended no further than that.