Turkey: life sentences demanded against journalists Can Dündar and Erdem Gül

A Turkish prosecutor demanded on 27 January “aggravated life imprisonment and imprisonment up to 30 years” for Can Dündar and Erdem Gül, two prominent journalists working for the Cumhuriyet daily. They are accused of aiding a terrorist organisation and disclosing classified documents. The International and European Federation of Journalists, (IFJ) and (EFJ), urge the European institutions to send a strong signal to the Turkish authorities so that they fully respect press freedom in the country.

Prosecutor İrfan Fidan demanded the journalists' life sentences during a court hearing that took place on 27 January in Instanbul. According to Turkish media reports, the 473-page indicment against journalists read by the prosecutor was solely based on opinions and articles published by the newspaper.

Can Dündar, editor in chief of Cumhuriyet and Erdem Gül, the newspaper’s bureau chief in Ankara, have been accused of aiding a terrorist organisation and disclosure of classified documents, which showed that Turkey’s intelligence agency secretly armed rebel Islamist groups in Syria. The two journalists are arrested since 26 November 2015 and detained in Silivri detention camp, Europe’s biggest jail for journalists.

Together with a coalition of leading international free expression and press freedom groups, the IFJ and EFJ are repeatedly calling on authorities in Turkey to immediately release Dündar and Gül and drop all charges against them.The case has been reported several times to the Council of Europe’s platform for the protection and safety of journalists and to the Mapping Media Freedom project.

Both Federations said that Europe and the international community must send a strong signal to Turkey who continue to ignore all our efforts to protect press freedom, to show solidarity with journalists, defend media pluralism and investigative work. They added that Can Dündar and Erdem Gül are in jail because they did their work for the public interest and they must be immediately set free.

The IFJ and EFJ also welcomed the reaction of Johannes Hahn, the European Union Commissioner for European Neighbourhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations, who said that "Turkey negotiating EU membership must ensure full respect of human rights including freedom of expression according to the European Convention on Human Rights.”

For more information, please contact IFJ on + 32 2 235 22 16

The IFJ represents more than 600,000 journalists in 139 countries

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