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Turkish Journalists Jailed Hours After Courthouse Attack

  • VOA News

Dilek Dundar, journalist Can Dundar's wife, and his lawyer, second left, overpower a gunman just after the attack on Can Dundar outside the city's main courthouse in Istanbul, May 6, 2016.

Dilek Dundar, journalist Can Dundar's wife, and his lawyer, second left, overpower a gunman just after the attack on Can Dundar outside the city's main courthouse in Istanbul, May 6, 2016.

A Turkish court sentenced two prominent journalists to five years in prison Friday, hours after one of them escaped an attack by a gunman outside the courtroom.

Can Dundar, editor of a leading opposition newspaper, Cumhuriyet, was sentenced to five years and 10 months at the closed-door trial in Istanbul, while the paper's Ankara bureau chief, Erdem Gul, received five years behind bars. Both were found guilty of revealing state secrets, but were acquitted of several other charges, including trying to topple the government.

The case stemmed from the pair's reporting on alleged government arms smuggling to Syria.

Hours before the verdicts were handed down, a gunman shouting "traitor" fired two shots at Dundar outside the courthouse. Dundar was not hurt, but The Associated Press said a journalist working for the private television station NTV, Yagiz Senkal, was injured in the leg.

Journalists Can Dundar, right, and Erdem Gul, Ankara bureau chief of Cumhuriyet newspaper, speak before the start of their trial, hours before the attack on Can Dundar outside city's main courthouse in Istanbul, May 6, 2016.

Journalists Can Dundar, right, and Erdem Gul, Ankara bureau chief of Cumhuriyet newspaper, speak before the start of their trial, hours before the attack on Can Dundar outside city's main courthouse in Istanbul, May 6, 2016.

Following the verdicts, Dundar accused President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and pro-government media of creating a climate of hatred against him that he said paved the way for the attack against him. "We will continue to do our job as journalists, despite all these attempts to silence us," Dundar said.

Dundar and Gul are expected to appeal the verdict and to remain free until the end of the appeals process.

The United States said it was concerned by the guilty verdicts. State Department spokesman John Kirby called on Turkish authorities to "support an independent and unfettered media, which is an essential element of any democratic, open society."

The case, which has come to be seen as a test for press freedom in Turkey, has brought condemnation from media and global rights groups.

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