Two Turkish journalists face life in jail over Syria arms truck story

(From Hurriyet Daily News)

Two Turkish journalists face life terms in jail over a report that said the Turkish government was sending weapons to opposition forces fighting against the Syrian regime.

Can Dündar, the editor-in-chief of opposition newspaper Cumhuriyet (R) and Erdem Gül, the paper's Ankara representative speak to the media outside a courthouse in Istanbul in this file photo

Can Dündar, the editor-in-chief of opposition newspaper Cumhuriyet (R) and Erdem Gül, the paper’s Ankara representative, speak to the media outside a courthouse in Istanbul in this file photo

Cumhuriyet Editor-in-Chief Dündar and Ankara Bureau chief Gül were arrested on terrorism charges on Nov. 26, 2015, over a story on trucks owned by the National Intelligence Agency (MİT), Turkey’s state intelligence agency, which were stopped and searched in southern Turkey in early 2014 while allegedly carrying weapons to opposition forces fighting against the Syrian regime.

The indictment, which was completed within an investigation launched into the story published in daily Cumhuriyet on May. 29, 2015, carries a penalty of life in prison, penal servitude for life and 30 years in prison for Dündar and Gül each.

Dündar and Gül face one account each of “gathering secret state documents for the purposes of political and military espionage,” “attempting to topple the government of the Republic of Turkey or attempting to stop either partially or totally the government from fulfilling its duties” and “deliberate support for a terrorist organization without being a member.”

President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and MİT are the plaintiffs in the case, which has drawn strong domestic and international condemnations.

Footage released by daily Cumhuriyet on May 29, 2015, showed gendarmerie and police officers opening crates on the back of trucks that contained what the daily reported as weapons and ammunition to be sent to Syria by MİT in January 2014.

Erdoğan filed a personal criminal complaint against Dündar and the daily on June 2, 2015, claiming that the story “included some footage and information that are not factual” while saying the person “who wrote the story will pay a heavy price.”

Erdoğan denied that the MİT trucks were carrying weapons to Syria during a speech he delivered on Nov. 24, 2015.

“What difference would it make whether the trucks contained weapons or not?” he asked, adding that the publishing of the story was “treason.”



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