A outstanding Turkish journalist has been sentenced in absentia to greater than 27 years in jail on terrorism-related prices that his authorized staff have described as politically motivated.
Can Dündar, who edited Turkey’s Cumhuriyet newspaper earlier than fleeing to Germany in 2016, was beforehand discovered responsible by an Istanbul court docket of espionage and aiding an armed terrorist organisation.
His attorneys refused to attend the ultimate listening to on Wednesday, saying in a written assertion beforehand that “we don’t wish to be a part of a follow to legitimise a beforehand determined, political verdict”. They’ll enchantment the decision.
“It’s unhappy and unusual that we knew what the decision in my case can be earlier than the case even ended. There are not any means to defend your self in Turkey anymore as a result of the judges and judiciary can’t be trusted,” Dündar instructed the Guardian.
“The message the Turkish authorities is sending right here by punishing a journalist so harshly is that ‘In the event you cowl delicate points that is what is going to occur to you.’ My concern is that this verdict will additional deter journalists nonetheless in Turkey from doing their job.”
Dündar was sentenced to 18 years and 9 months for “securing confidential info for espionage” associated to his journalism, and an extra eight years and 9 months for aiding followers of the exiled cleric Fethullah Gülen, whom Ankara blames for the 2016 coup try.
Dündar, a vocal critic of the Turkish president, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, is without doubt one of the most well-known of 1000’s of Turkish journalists, politicians, teachers, attorneys and civil servants who’ve been swept up within the Turkish state’s crackdown on dissent in recent times. Important media retailers have both been closed down or purchased by individuals with hyperlinks to Erdoğan’s ruling Justice and Improvement occasion (AKP). Nearly half of Cumhuriyet’s employees have been jailed.
The federal government maintains that Turkey’s courts operate independently and that its actions are justified by the extreme threats going through the nation.
Dündar and Erdem Gül, Cumhuriyet’s Ankara bureau chief, have been first arrested in 2015 and sentenced to 5 years every in jail for breaking information of the alleged switch of weapons to Syrian fighters throughout Turkey’s southern border on vans operated by the Turkish intelligence companies.
The report infuriated Erdoğan, who mentioned on the time that the vans have been carrying assist to Syria and vowed that Cumhuriyet would “pay a excessive value” for publishing the story.
Turkey has since launched 4 cross-border operations and brazenly helps an umbrella of militant teams preventing in Syria’s civil conflict.
The pair have been later launched pending enchantment, however Dündar was once more sentenced to almost six years in Could 2016 for “acquiring and disclosing categorized paperwork associated to the safety of the state”. He was shot at by an assailant exterior the courthouse throughout that listening to however escaped with out accidents.
The supreme court docket of appeals reversed Dündar’s and Gül’s convictions in 2018, however an Istanbul court docket restarted their trial in Could that yr.
The Turkish authorities have already requested Dündar’s extradition from Germany and froze his belongings in Turkey in October.
In response to the Committee to Shield Journalists’ annual international report, launched final week, Turkey ranked second behind China among the many world’s high jailers of media employees. It discovered that 37 journalists have been arrested in Turkey in 2020 – fewer than half the quantity detained in 2016, across the time of the coup try.
“I’m not in jail in Turkey anymore however my spouse and I’ve nonetheless paid a really heavy value,” Dündar mentioned.
“Every part I had is gone. After 40 years in journalism, we have now to begin once more. That’s the value we have now to pay for defending the reality.”