quinta-feira, 26 de novembro de 2015
Turkish Authorities Jail Two Journalists, Accusing Them of Espionage / Preso director de jornal turco por revelar entregas de armas aos jihadistas
Turkish Authorities Jail Two Journalists, Accusing Them of Espionage
Charges center on newspaper report suggesting Turkish intelligence ferried weapons to extremist Syrian rebels
By DION NISSENBAUM And AYLA ALBAYRAK
Nov. 26, 2015 5:46 p.m. ET
ISTANBUL—The respected editor of a prominent Turkish newspaper and one of his key reporters have been detained, jailed and accused of espionage for a controversial story about an alleged arms shipment from Turkish intelligence to Syrian rebels.
Turkish authorities on Thursday imprisoned Can Dündar, editor in chief of Cumhuriyet, and Erdem Gül, the newspaper’s capital correspondent in Ankara, on charges of spying and aiding a terrorist organization, the newspaper’s attorney said. If convicted, the two men would face life in prison over the charges.
The arrests are part of a renewed crackdown on Turkish media since the political party founded by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan regained one-party rule earlier this month.
They come on the heels of a warning from the European Union that Turkey’s clampdown on free media is jeopardizing its hopes of joining the organization.
Freedom of the press has been steadily eroding in Turkey under Mr. Erdogan. Police have closed opposition television stations, prosecutors have accused top journalists of writing tweets or columns insulting the president, and reporters have been beaten by mobs. The government is one of the world’s leading censors of Twitter, which is used widely in Turkey to criticize the government.
The arrests came one week after the Turkish newspaper won this year’s Press Freedom Prize from Reporters Without Borders, the Paris-based press freedom group.
On Thursday, Reporters Without Borders said the arrests sent “an extremely grave signal about media freedom in Turkey.”
“For the first time, we’ve reached the level (of pressure on media in Turkey) that such a prominent figure in Turkey’s mainstream media and television for over 30 years is targeted,” said Erol Önderoğlu, the group’s Turkish representative.
The charges center on a Cumhuriyet report in May, including photos and video, suggesting Turkish intelligence was secretly ferrying weapons to extremist Syrian rebels.
The article sparked a major furor in Turkey, which has long been accused by its critics of secretly aiding in the growth of Islamic State militants based in neighboring Syria.
Mr. Erdogan personally sued Mr. Dündar, accused Cumhuriyet of spying and releasing false information, warning in a television interview that the journalist who wrote the piece would “pay a heavy price.”
Earlier this week, the Turkish president again lashed out at the newspaper and suggested that it had sabotaged the country’s support for moderate Turkmen rebels in Syria.
On Thursday, before his arrest, Mr. Dündar rejected the allegation that he was a spy. After three hours of testimony, Mr. Dündar said the prosecutors were focused on the wrong people.
“Who should be judged is who committed the crime, not who wrote about it,” he wrote on Twitter.
The arrests come as Mr. Erdogan is facing renewed pressure to play a larger role in cracking down on Islamic State extremists believed to be behind a surge in global terrorists attacks, including the coordinated Paris attacks earlier this month that left 130 people dead.
The two Cumhuriyet journalists were accused of “political or military spying” by reporting “classified information” and “deliberately aiding a terrorist organization,”
Mr. Dündar said he and his paper were “defending press freedom” in the face of “lies” by the government.
Tora Pekin, one of the newspaper’s lawyers, said the government waited until after the recent parliamentary election to act against a prominent government critic.
“After Erdogan’s comments, for six months we waited for the arrests,” he said. “We were 100% certain that Dündar and Gül would be arrested.”
Write to Dion Nissenbaum at email@example.com and Ayla Albayrak at firstname.lastname@example.org