Belgian police search Kurdish broadcasters as part of French terrorism investigation

Police conducted a search of the premises of two Kurdish TV channels in East Flanders early on Tuesday morning. The public prosecutor’s office, which confirmed the information, said the search had been carried out at the request of France as part of an investigation into the financing of terrorism. 

The search lasted about four hours, according to Fien Schreurs, lawyer for Sterk TV and Medya Haber (Medya News), based in Denderleeuw. “In the process, a lot of damage was caused to the building. Many doors were broken open," she said. "Several journalists’ laptops were confiscated and telecommunications were cut off. We do not know why the search took place.” 

The federal prosecutor’s office later said the searches were carried out in connection with a European Investigation Order, emanating from France, as part of an investigation into terrorist financing. As Belgium was acting at the request of another country, the prosecutor’s office will not provide further information for the time being.

“Around 1.30 this morning, I received a phone call that more than a hundred police officers were trying to get into the building, without our knowledge,” said Daniel Sommer, managing director of Sterk Productions. Those present at the time were not allowed to leave the site or contact anyone, he said. 

In a press release distributed by their law firm, the channels said there were “no justifiable reasons” to “turn against TV channels aimed at Kurds”. The statement referred to Turkey and NATO allies as well as to a Turkish offensive in the Kurdish region. 

A previous search of the same premises took place in 2010, when all computers and cameras belonging to the channel ROJ were taken. 

According to the Kurdistan National Congress, a Kurdish press agency in Istanbul, Turkey, was searched at the same time on Tuesday, reportedly leading to the arrest of seven journalists.


#FlandersNewsService | The studios of Sterk TV and Medya News, two Kurdish television channels that broadcast from Denderleeuw, 23 April 2024 © BELGA PHOTO/VIDEO JAMES ARTHUR GEKIERE

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