2 journalists in Turkey sentenced for reporting on arms shipments to rebels

Special to WorldTribune.com

Two Turkish journalists have been sentenced to nearly six years each in prison for revealing “state secrets.”

The verdict was reached on May 6, just hours after one of the journalists narrowly escaped an attack by a gunman in front of the courthouse.

Can Dundar, right, and Erden Gul. /AP
Can Dundar, right, and Erdem Gul. /AP

Can Dundar, the editor in chief of the opposition newspaper Cumhuriyet, and Erdem Gul, the newspaper’s Ankara bureau chief, were accused of espionage and attempting to topple the government through their reporting on weapons shipments by Turkey’s spy agency to rebels opposed to the government of Syrian President Bashar Assad. They each received 5 years and 10 months in prison.

The journalists are expected to appeal the verdict and will remain free until the end of the appellate process, Cumhuriyet reported.

The court also ruled that the journalists would face a separate trial over charges that they had “assisted an armed terror organization.” The government has accused them of collaborating with Fethullah Gulen, an exiled Muslim cleric, and onetime ally of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who has been accused of plotting a coup in Turkey.

The journalists were acquitted of the more serious charges of trying to topple the Erdogan government.

As the journalists awaited the court’s decision on May 6, an assailant fired a shot at Dundar, shouting “traitor”. Dundar was unharmed, but another reporter was wounded and taken to a hospital.

“In the space of two hours, we have experienced two assassination attempts: one was done with a gun, the other was judicial,” Dundar told reporters after the verdict.

“The jail sentences we received are not just to silence us,” he said. “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.”