- Concerns have been raised after seven members of one family were allegedly stripped and beaten by Turkish security forces
- The group were arrested on allegations of belonging to an outlawed Kurdish separatist group
- The news comes as part of a wider crackdown on dissent in Turkey, which has seen WSJ reporter Ayla Albayrak jailed in absentia
- The crackdown comes following hundreds of arrests following a failed coup against Turkish President Erdogan last year
Pictures featuring seven members of the same family beaten and stripped naked by Turkish forces have sparked concern among rights groups.
The group, all of whom are brothers or cousins, were detained near the resort of Muğla last week.
They were all arrested on suspicion of membership of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), considered a terrorist organization by Ankara.
The group were later identified as Ekrem Altay, Veysi Şengil, İsmail Bozdağ, Velat Asan, Mehmet Can Yiğiner, Mustafa Yiğiner and Adnan Yiğiner.
Police reportedly stopped a car in a rural area following alleged complaints that the group was set to carry out attacks in Muğla province.
The suspects had been stripped off their clothes on suspicion that they were carrying explosives and guns.
However, no evidence of either was found in their possession.
The shocking images of the men released by The Stockholm Center for Freedom come amid a harsh crackdown on all forms of dissent by the Turkish government.
Officials sentenced Wall Street Journal reporter Ayla Albayrak to two years and one month in prison on Tuesday, after finding her guilty of engaging in terrorist propaganda in support of Kurdish separatists organization through one of her articles.
Albayrak is currently in New York and was tried in absentia.
“This was an unfounded criminal charge and wildly inappropriate conviction that wrongly singled out a balanced Wall Street Journal report,” said Wall Street Journal Editor in Chief Gerard Baker.
“The sole purpose of the article was to provide objective and independent reporting on events in Turkey, and it succeeded,” he added.
The journalist is set to appeal the verdict in the coming days.
“Given the current climate in Turkey, this appalling decision shouldn’t have come as a surprise to me, but it did,” she said.
The New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists said it condemned the Turkish court decision.
The legal action stems from an article which the journalist wrote in 2015 on the conflict between Kurdish separatists and the government in the south-east of the country.
The article included a comment from a female member of a Kurdish separatist group.
“The decision shows the extent to which the authorities did not want the operations that were going on in Turkey’s southeast to be reported on,” said Ms. Albayrak.
“It also shows yet again, that the international media is not immune to the ongoing press crackdown in Turkey,” she added.
The news comes at a time of ongoing tensions between the U.S. and Turkey.
In recent days, the U.S. chose to suspend almost all visas for Turkish nationals after a U.S. consulate employee was arrested on suspicion of having ties to U.S.-based cleric Fethullah Gulen.
Turkey in response said it would also suspend U.S. visa applications.
The government blames Gulen for last year’s failed coup last year.
The attempted coup has led to mass arrests across Turkish society against anyone deemed sympathetic to the U.S.-based cleric.
Deniz Yücel, a German-Turkish journalist for Die Welt, was arrested in Istanbul in February and remains in custody on terrorism charges.
Meanwhile, Mesale Tolu, a Turkish-German translator is set to go on trial this week on suspicion of spreading terrorist propaganda.
Rights groups claim that Turkey has more journalists jailed than any other country in the world.
Officials have shuttered more than 150 media outlets in recent months, according to Human Rights Watch and Freedom House.
Turkey ranked 155 on Reporters Without Borders Press Freedom Index this year.
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