A rubber-stamp Istanbul court sentenced Cumhuriyet’s editor-in-chief Can Dundar and its Ankara bureau chief Erdem Gul to five years, ten months and five years imprisonment respectively on the phony charge of revealing state secrets.
Acquitted of espionage and plotting to overthrow the regime, they remain free pending appeal, Dundar saying “(w)e will continue to do our job as journalists, despite all these attempts to silence us. We have to preserve courage in our country.”
They reported hard truths of regime wrongdoing, high crimes against peace, evidence proving Ankara intelligence smuggled weapons to ISIS and other terrorist groups in Syria.
Last November in court, Dundar said he and Gul “came to defend journalism…to defend the right of the public to obtain the news and their right to know if their government is feeding them lies.”
“We came here to show and to prove that governments cannot engage in illegal activity and defend this.”
Erdogan tolerates no criticism, no dissent, no revelations about his criminal activities. Both men were imprisoned pending trial, held three months largely in solitary confinement.
In late February, Turkey’s constitutional court (its highest judicial authority) ordered them released, ruling their rights were violated.
Erdogan said they’d be tried anyway, promising they’d “pay a heavy price.” At the time, Dundar said he and Gul would challenge his war on press and judicial freedom “till the end (so) people…learn the truth.”
Hours before sentencing, he survived an attempt on his life outside the court. A likely regime hitman opened fire on him several times before police intervened – either attempting to kill or intimidate him.
Dundar was unharmed. NTV reporter Yagiz Senkal was lightly wounded. In response to the day’s events, Dundar said “(i)n the space of two hours, we have experienced two assassination attempts: one…with a gun, the other…judicial.”
“The jail sentences we received are not just to silence us. The bullet was not just to silence us. This was done to all of us, to scare us into silence, to make us stop talking.”
Both men face a separate trial on charges of “assist(ing) an armed terror organization.” They’re accused of collaborating with exiled former Erdogan ally turned critic Fethullah Gulen.
Regime critics and journalists exposing its high crimes risk imprisonment or assassination.
Turkey is a NATO member, Erdogan a valued US and EU ally – his high crimes overlooked. Imperial priorities matter more.