Turkey – Media – Rights – Politics

Prosecutors Seek Life Terms for Two Anti-Erdogan Journalists

Prosecutors Seek Life Terms for Two Anti-Erdogan Journalists
Wed Jan 27, 2016 20:21:18

Turkish prosecutors on Wednesday sought multiple life sentences for two top opposition journalists on charges of revealing state secrets in a report that alleged President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s government tried to send arms into Syria.

Prosecutors asked the Istanbul court to sentence Cumhuriyet newspaper editor-in-chief Can Dundar and Ankara bureau chief Erdem Gul each to a penalty comprising one aggravated life sentence, one ordinary life sentence and 30 years in jail, the Dogan news agency reported.

The severity of the demand intensified concerns about press freedom in Turkey, with EU Enlargement Commissioner Johannes Hahn saying he was “shocked.”

It is not unusual in Turkey for prosecutors to seek such combined sentences, but this is done in cases involving violent crimes such as murder.

An aggravated life sentence means tougher conditions, including restricting a prisoner’s leisure hours.

Both Erdogan and the head of the National Intelligence Organization (MIT) Hakan Fidan — the president’s hugely powerful but low-profile ally — are named as plaintiffs in the 473-page indictment, Dogan said.

Dundar and Gul were placed under arrest in November over the report earlier in the year that claimed to show proof that a consignment of weapons seized at the border in January 2014 was bound for rebels in Syria.

The pair have been held in Silivri jail on the outskirts of Istanbul ahead of their trial, whose date has yet to be announced.

They have been charged with obtaining and revealing state secrets “for espionage purposes” and seeking to “violently” overthrow the Turkish government as well as aiding an “armed terrorist organization,” according to the indictment.

The penalties demanded by the prosecutors are far heavier than expected, AFP reported.


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