Turkish Court Sentences Journalist Dundar to 27 Years in Absentia for Espionage

A Turkish court sentenced exiled journalist Can Dundar in absentia to 27 years in prison on espionage and terror-related charges for a story and video footage published in one of the largest newspapers in Turkey.

A court in Istanbul sentenced exiled journalist Can Dundar in absentia to 27 years in prison on espionage and terror-related charges for a story and video footage published in one of the largest newspapers in Turkey.

According to the final hearing, the court found Dundar guilty of “obtaining secret documents for espionage” and “knowingly and willingly aiding a terrorist organization without being a member.”

Dundar’s lawyers refused to attend the final hearing. In a written statement, they said that they “do not want to be part of a practice to legitimize a previously decided, political verdict” that violated the regulations of fair and unbiased trial.

Dundar is a former editor-in-chief of the Turkish opposition newspaper Cumhuriyet. He was sentenced to five years in prison in 2016 for publishing an article and video that accuse Turkey’s intelligence agency of illegally funneling weapons to Syria.

The Turkish columnist fled the country in 2016 and lived in exile in Germany.

German Foreign Minister Heiko Maasdenounced the ruling for Dundar, describing it as a “hard blow against independent journalistic work in Turkey” which he described as a fundamental right for press freedom.

“Journalism is not a crime but an indispensable service to society – even and especially when it looks critically and investigatively on the fingers of those in power,” Maas said in a statement.


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