Turkey’s top court says journalist Dündar should be tried on espionage charges

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Former Cumhuriyet daily Editor-in-Chief Can Dündar

Turkey’s Supreme Court of Appeals on Friday overruled a five-year jail sentence for former editor-in-chief of the Cumhuriyet daily Can Dündar, saying he should instead face up to 20 years in prison on espionage charges.

Dündar had been arrested and jailed for 92 days along with colleague Erdem Gül for publishing a story on Turkish intelligence trucks carrying hidden weapons bound for Syria in early 2014. They were arrested on Nov. 26, 2015 and released on Feb. 26, 2016 pending trial following a Constitutional Court decision.

Shortly after his release and an armed attack against him, Dündar quit his position as editor-in-chief of Cumhuriyet and left Turkey as scores of other journalists under pressure have done. Gül remains in the country and is free on his own recognizance while his appeal is in process.

On Friday the top court ruled that the lower court should have sentenced Dündar on espionage-related charges, which carry a 15 to 20 year sentence, rather than the lesser charge of disclosing confidential information. The court said Gül should be acquitted due to a lack of evidence.

“Real ‘espionage’ is the secret transfer of arms into a foreign country. Those who report on it are journalists,” Dündar tweeted in response to the report of the decision.

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