Turkey: Unacceptable verdict and assassination attempt threaten free press

The International and European Federations of Journalist (IFJ/EFJ) have strongly condemned the assassination attempt on 6 May in Istanbul against journalist Can Dündar (editor-in-chief of Cumhuriyet daily newspaper) and the jail sentences of 5 years and 10 months for Can Dündar and 5 years for Erdem Gül for procuring, revealing and publishing state secrets.

Cumhuriyet published footage in May 2015 that showed Turkey’s state intelligence agency ferrying weapons into Syria in 2014. The journalists have since been accused of revealing state secrets.

The Federations criticised the “unacceptable” verdict which is in contradiction to Turkey’s Opens external link in new windowConstitutional Court ruling and call on the Turkish authorities to guarantee the safety of journalists, to prosecute all media freedom violators and to respect press freedom.

“Press freedom must be part of any agreement between EU and Turkey. The deterioration of freedom of the press in the country and the impact it has on public opinion and democracy is alarming”, said the federations.

“In the space of two hours we have experienced two assassination attempts: one was done with a gun, the other was judicial,” said Can Dündar (editor in chief of Cumhuriyet) speaking in front of the court after the verdict was announced. “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. We all have to be courageous, despite all of this, and defend freedom of the press and freedom of information”.

The journalists were acquitted on charges of trying to overthrow the government but convicted of publishing secret state documents. They still face charges of helping an armed organisation in a separate case. The journalists appealed to the Court of Appeal in Ankara and will remain free pending the decision of this higher court.

“Neither bullets, nor politically ordered verdicts can beat the truth. We will overcome this blockade by supporting each other and using solidarity”, said IFJ/EFJ affiliate TGS (Journalists Union of Turkey) in a statement in support of attacked journalists.

More about the IFJ/EFJ Opens external link in new windowcampaign for press freedom in Turkey.

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