March 2, 2016 - Updated on March 8, 2016

“President Erdogan, we hold you responsible for their safety”

Reporters Without Borders (RSF) today organized the first news conference to be given by Cumhuriyet editor Can Dündar since his release from Silivri prison on 26 February, ending 92 days in pre-trial detention.

Addressing a room packed with journalists in Istanbul’s Elite World Hotel, Dündar denounced “the climate of fear that the Erdogan regime has spread among journalists.”

“We are journalists, not functionaries working for the state,” he said. “It is our duty to provide the public with information, including information about the government’s illegal actions. Right from the very first hearing in our trial, on 25 March, we are going to fully expose the state’s crimes. We are not going to defend ourselves. We are going to put the state’s crimes on trial.”

RSF secretary-general Christophe Deloire, who also took part in the news conference, hailed the courage of Turkey’s constitutional court for ruling that the prolonged pre-trial detention of Dündar and Cumhuriyet’s Ankara bureau chief, Erdem Gül, was illegal.

“Yes, international pressure is effective,” Deloire said. “For millions of people in Turkey and elsewhere, Can Dündar now symbolizes the very essence of journalism.” Deloire also underlined the danger of President Erdogan’s public statement that he does not respect the constitutional court’s decision.

“Mr. Erdogan, we hold you responsible for the safety of Can Dündar and Erdem Gül,” he said, reiterating RSF’s commitment to stand by the two journalists, who continue to face the possibility of being sentenced to life imprisonment. “We will not rest until the absurd charges have been dropped. We will be there at the opening of the trial on 25 March.”

RSF announced its intention of submitting the cases of arbitrarily detained Turkish journalists to the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention.

Turkey is ranked 149th out of 180 countries in RSF’s 2015 World Press Index.

Sign the petition: Can Dündar faces life imprisonment for wanting to inform us.