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Çağdaş Erdoğan arrested in Istanbul

Turkish photographer Çağdaş Erdoğan, photographed installing work in Istanbul in April. Image courtesy Akina Books

The Turkish photographer is thought to have been arrested in the Kadikoy district of the city

Turkish photographer Çağdaş Erdoğan has been arrested in Istanbul, according to his agency 140journos.

The photographer, who featured in the BJP’s Ones to Watch list earlier this year, is thought to have been taken into custody on 02 September whilst taking photographs in Istanbul’s central Kadikoy district. He was officially arrested on 13 September and put in pretrial arrest on accusations of membership to a terrorist organisation on Wednesday, according to the site turkeypurge.com. Under Turkey’s current State of Emergency, pretrial arrest can last 4-6 months.

Erdoğan has been accused of photographing the MİT building, which is home to Turkey’s National Intelligence Centre. Previously published photographs have also been cited as reasons for his arrest.

His work, which has been published by international news outlets including the New York Times, The Guardian and the Wall Street Journal, often portrays hidden aspects of life in Turkey, such as nightlife, the lives of LGBT communities, and resistance movements. Earlier this year, he published his first monograph with Akina Books – Control, which was shot in Istanbul from 2015-17. At the time of writing, Erdogan’s website was unavailable.

In an interview published on bjp-online in June, the photographer urged the importance of freedom of speech, and the need for honest photographs of what is going on in Turkey. “Secularism has been suppressed to the point where it is almost invisible,” says Erdoğan. “I wanted to find a way to scrutinise Turkish society’s relationship with reality.”

All spreads from the book Control by Cağdaş Erdoğan, courtesy Akina Books

Erdoğan’s arrest is not unique: earlier this year, French photographer Mathias Depardon was arrested and held in a Turkish prison for one month, after taking picture in the city of Hasankeyf. As of 28 August, the Stockholm Center for Freedom estimated that there were 258 journalists arrested and in jail in Turkey, of whom on 25 have been convicted. A further 135 journalists are wanted by the Turkish authorities.

Since the failed coup in July 2016, the government has put Turkey under a state of emergency which has restricted the work of journalists, photographers and the media. “Turkey, which is ranked 155th out of 180 countries in Reporters Sans Frontiers’ 2017 World Press Freedom Index, is now the world’s biggest prison for professional journalists, with more than 100 detained,” RSF states.

“More than 150 media outlets have been closed without reference to the courts. They have been closed by decrees issued under the state of emergency. Media pluralism has been reduced to a handful of low-circulation newspapers.”

140journos will update its website here, in Turkish and English, as more information becomes available. ++This story was updated at 11.41am with extra details re the date of the original detention, and the current length of pretrial arrests in Turkey++