Thursday, March 30, 2023

Turkey Sentences Exiled Journalist Can Dundar to 27 Years in Prison | Media News

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Dundar was convicted in absentia for espionage and aiding an armed organization, which drew criticism from Germany.

Turkish journalist Can Dundar was sentenced in absentia to 27 years and six months in prison for espionage and aid to an armed organization, according to his lawyers.

Dundar, the former editor-in-chief of the Turkish daily Cumhuriyet, and a colleague, Erdem Gul, were both sentenced in 2016 to five years in prison for posting a video purporting to show Turkish intelligence weapons in Syria. They were then released pending appeal.

Now residing in Germany, he has faced up to 35 years in prison for allegedly supporting “terrorism” and military or political espionage.

Dundar’s lawyers declined to attend the final hearing on Wednesday.

“We do not want to be part of a practice aimed at legitimizing a previously decided political verdict,” they said in a written statement before the hearing.

German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas criticized the decision as a “blow to independent journalistic work in Turkey”, which he called a fundamental right.

“Journalism is not a crime but an indispensable service to society – even and especially when it seems critical and investigative on the fingers of those in power,” Maas told RedaktionsNetzwerk Deutschland.

Fahrettin Altun, director of communications for the Turkish presidency, said on Twitter that Dundar’s conviction did not violate freedom of expression.

Writing in German, he said Turkey expects its partners to accept the court’s decision and extradite him.

For detractors of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Dundar has become a symbol of what they say is Turkey’s sweeping crackdown on press freedom, especially since a failed coup in 2016.

The government says the courts are independent and respond to threats facing the country.

Earlier this month, the court delayed its verdict after Dundar’s lawyers requested replacement judges to ensure a fair trial, a request which was dismissed.

An Istanbul court had declared Dundar a fugitive and seized all of his property in Turkey.


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