Turkish prosecutors demanded life sentences for journalists, Can Dündar and Erdem Gül, because they reported that President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s government tried to ship arms to Islamists in Syria.
AFP news agency reported that the two journalists who worked for the opposition Cumhuriyet newspaper was charged with the crime of revealing state secrets. According to the Turkish Dogan news agency, the prosecutors asked the Istanbul court to sentence both journalists with life sentence, meaning 30 years in jail.
According to Dogan, both Turkish President Erdogan and his powerful ally, the head of the National Intelligence Organisation (MIT) Hakan Fidan, are named as plaintiffs in the indictment. According to AFP, in the indictment Dündar and Gül have been formally charged with obtaining and revealing state secrets “for espionage purposes” and seeking to “violently” overthrow the government as well as aiding an “armed terrorist organization.”
Today, delegates, representing the International Press Institute (IPI), the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), Reporters Without Borders (RSF) and the Ethical Journalism Network (EJN), were present outside the prison gates to greet supporters of Dündar and Gül. Turkish authorities didn’t allow the association’s representatives to visit to the two journalists who are behind bars.
Today, tens of media associations issued a joint statement condemning the stand of the Turkish government against the two journalists. “The charges (against the two journalists) remain unclear, as the defendants have not been allowed to review indictments against them,” the statement said and added that “the persecution of these journalists in retaliation for having reported on a matter of urgent and undeniable public interest…represent a violation of their rights and a gross abuse of authority.”
“The misuse of anti-terror law against these journalists is only the latest in a litany of such cases in Turkey, and joins a list of developments that illustrate growing authoritarianism and a blatant erosion of human rights. They include politicization of the judiciary, the similar abuse of other criminal laws, the imposition of outright bans on disseminating certain content, the use of state agencies and economic levers to silence media outlets, verbal and – in some cases – physical attacks on critical journalists, and the orchestration of online hate campaigns targeting government critics, among others,” the statement adds.
Yesterday, it was reported that a Turkish ship loaded with explosives and bound to the Middle East, is being held by the Swedish authorities for security reasons.