American freelance writer arrested in Turkey

By Gul Tuysuz
Monday, August 16, 2010; 11:37 AM

ISTANBUL -- Turkish authorities have arrested an American freelance writer for allegedly having ties with the banned Kurdistan Workers' Party, or PKK, which Turkey and the United States classify as a terrorist organization.

Jake Hess, 25, of New Hampshire, was working on stories involving the mistreatment of Kurds as well as translating for a human rights organization in the predominately Kurdish city of Diyarbakir when he was arrested there last week, his lawyer said.

On Monday, Hess was at a foreigners' detention facility awaiting deportation. A U.S. Embassy spokesman in Ankara said Hess "asked us not to share any information on his case."

Kurds, who make up roughly 15 percent of Turkey's population, have increasingly been demanding cultural and social rights.

Local journalists who pursue stories on problems facing the Kurdish community are routinely harassed by authorities. Hess's case highlighted the state's continued uneasiness with reporting on the issue despite efforts by Turkey's ruling party to build bridges with the Kurdish minority.

In recent weeks, tensions have escalated between Kurdish fighters and the Turkish military since the PKK's unilateral cease-fire elapsed in June.

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