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New York Times reporter detained in Turkey

March 4, 1997

ISTANBUL, Turkey (AP) _ The New York Times correspondent based in Istanbul said Tuesday that security forces detained and interrogated him for 19 hours on suspicion of spying for Kurdish rebels.

Stephen Kinzer said he was detained at a roadblock near the town of Kozluk in Batman province on Sunday, then taken to Batman city where he was interrogated before being released Monday.

``They accused me of spying for the PKK,″ Kinzer said, referring to the Kurdish rebel group fighting for autonomy in the region.

``They did not even allow me to contact the U.S. Embassy, my paper or family,″ he said. He said he was not mistreated, but interrogators ``searched my body for hidden cameras.″

``They had me sign some statements in Turkish and let me go,″ Kinzer said. ``I ... wrote `signed in protest’ under those statements.″

Ahmet Erturk, the deputy regional governor, said Kinzer and his translator were detained for security reasons. ``Nobody was aware of his visit to the area,″ Erturk told the Anatolia news agency.

Journalists need permission to conduct interviews in the region, site of 12 years of fighting between Kurdish guerrillas and government forces.

The government remains sensitive about media coverage of the Kurdish conflict, which has claimed over 23,000 lives since 1984. Hundreds of journalists, writers and intellectuals have been jailed for their reporting or views on the conflict.

In November 1995, Reuters’ Istanbul correspondent, Aliza Marcus, of Westfield, N.J., was tried and acquitted on a charge of inciting racial hatred for a story about Turkey’s Kurds.

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