ISTANBUL - Forty-four pro-Kurdish journalists went on trial in Turkey on Monday, charged with belonging to an armed rebellion in the country's largest media case, intensifying concerns about press and political freedoms.

Thousands of pro-Kurdish trade unionists, politicians, academics and journalists have been jailed since 2009, accused of links with the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), which has waged a 28-year campaign against Turkey.

"The clampdown on the Kurdish press ... raises major concerns about the treatment of minorities and minority opinion," said Emma Sinclair-Webb, Turkey researcher for Human Rights Watch (HRW).

"Even when those views are offensive, they must be protected," she said.

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