Reporters Without Borders (RSF) calls on Turkey’s constitutional court to order the immediate release of Cumhuriyet journalists Can Dündar and Erdem Gül, who have been held since 26 November and will begin their second month in detention tomorrow.
The court is about to begin examining appeals challenging the constitutionality of their detention. Filed by their lawyers on 7 and 16 December, the appeals argue that their arrests violate the constitutionally guaranteed rights to free speech and media freedom, among others.
They also point out that there is no evidence to support the charges brought against their clients – spying, divulging state secrets and “supporting a terrorist organization” – and that their release would pose no threat to the judicial investigation.
“Can Dündar and Erdem Gül have already spent a month in jail just for doing their job,” said Johann Bihr, the head of RSF’s Eastern Europe and Central Asia desk. “Each passing day just makes this scandal more intolerable. We reiterate our call for their immediate release and the withdrawal of the absurd charges brought against them.”
Dündar and Gül are facing possible life sentences for publishing evidence supporting claims that the Turkish intelligence services delivered arms to rebels in Syria.
Dündar is also the target of many other judicial proceedings. He appeared in court on 17 December in connection with two separate charges of insulting President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his son, Bilal Erdogan, in articles about allegations of government corruption that emerged in December 2013 and were quickly suppressed. He is facing up to five years and four months in prison on these charges.
RSF was relieved to learn that the authorities have dropped the “terrorist propaganda” charges that were brought against Dündar and 17 other journalists for using a photo of a prosecutor being held hostage by a small ultra-leftist group in March 2015. It showed him with a gun against his temple.
RSF regrets that the case was abandoned solely because a legal deadline had expired and points out the case should never have been initiated in the first place.
Cumhuriyet was awarded this year’s Reporters Without Borders Press Freedom Prize in the media category.
Sign the petition for the release of Can Dündar, Erdem Gül and the other journalists detained in Turkey.
(Photo : Ozan Kose / AFP)