Two Opposition Journalists Jailed in Turkey Press Freedom Trial
TEHRAN (Tasnim) – An Istanbul court jailed two opposition journalists on hugely controversial charges of revealing state secrets, media reported, in a trial that has become a lightning rod for concerns about eroding press freedoms in Turkey.
Can Dundar, editor-in-chief of leading opposition daily Cumhuriyet, was sentenced to five years 10 months, while his Ankara bureau chief Erdem Gul was handed five years in prison, television stations said on Friday, AFP reported.
The two men were acquitted of espionage but were found guilty of revealing state secrets over a story accusing the government of seeking to illicitly deliver arms bound for Syria.
They will not immediately be placed in detention as the court of appeal has yet to rule on the case.
"We will continue to do our job as journalists, despite all these attempts to silence us," Dundar told the press after the verdict. "We have to preserve courage in our country."
The sentencing came hours after Dundar escaped an apparent attempt on his life by a gunman outside the courthouse.
Brandishing a pistol, the attacker fired several times before being detained by police. Dundar was unharmed. NTV television reported that its reporter Yagiz Senkal was lightly injured by a ricocheting bullet.
Cumhuriyet's report on a shipment of arms intercepted at the Syrian border in January 2014 sparked a furore when it was published last May, fuelling speculation about Turkey's role in the Syrian conflict and its alleged ties to Islamist groups in the country.
Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan had reacted furiously to the allegations, personally warning Dundar he would "pay a heavy price."
Fears over press freedoms have steadily grown since Erdogan became president in August 2014, with some 2,000 people, including many journalists, facing charges of insulting the president.