February 25, 2016 - Updated on May 1, 2016

With RSF in Washington, wife of Can Dündar pleads for his release

During a visit to Washington, DC organized by Reporters Without Borders (RSF), the wife of Can Dündar, editor in chief of Turkish newspaper Cumhuriyet who is currently imprisoned with his colleague Erdem Gül, met with high-level government officials, members of Congress and journalists in order to raise awareness about her husband’s case. He is accused of “espionage”, “attempting a coup d’état,” and “aiding and abetting a terrorist organisation.”

During the press conference organized by RSF at the National Press Club in Washington DC, with panelists such as investigative journalist for The Washington Post Dana Priest, Hürriyet’s Washington DC correspondent Tolga Tanis, The New York Times investigative journalist James Risen, and award-winning investigative journalist for The Washington Post Carl Bernstein, Dilek Dündar said she “hoped for an independent decision from Turkey’s Constitutional court and that Can and Erdem will be released soon.” The Turkish Constitutional court is expected to decide tomorrow whether or not to release Can and Erdem while they await their trial, set to begin March 25. In a video message broadcast at this morning’s event, the investigative journalist Carl Bernstein who shared the Pulitzer Prize with Bob Woodward for his coverage of the Watergate scandal for The Washington Post remarked that Turkey has “instituted a methodical crackdown on the media, using the smokescreen of terrorism to justify the arrest and detention of numerous distinguished journalists whose only crimes have been the pursuit of the truth.” Tolga Tanis, Washington DC correspondent for Hürriyet, echoed Bernstein’s remarks: “when you do your job in Turkey as a journalist, you end up in jail.” Pulitzer-prize winning investigative journalist for The Washington Post Dana Priest highlighted how much American journalists rely on foreign journalists to “tell the truth”, encouraging fellow journalists to “get over (their) hesitancy to be an advocate.” Editor of Turkish newspaper Cumhuriyet, Can Dündar was arrested on November 26, 2015 with Ankara bureau chief Erdem Gül as a result of the accusations made against them by President Erdogan and the head of the National Intelligence Organization (MİT), after they published evidence of MİT arms deliveries to Syria. They have been detained since then, and Turkey's public prosecutors have requested "aggravated life sentences without possibility of pardon."The Pulitzer-prize winning New York Times journalist James Risen denounced the “outrageous” charges brought against Can and Erdem and Turkey’s “ridiculous crackdown on journalism.” He also highlighted the importance of Can and Erdem’s story for the American people, particularly since “American reporters often rely on foreign journalists for what’s going on on the ground.” “Freedom of information is currently under attack in Turkey, with a growing crackdown on independent reporting, and an uptick in cyber-censorship and arbitrary arrests and prosecutions," said Delphine Halgand, the US director of Reporters Without. "The misuse of anti-terror law to prosecute Can Dündar and Erdem Gül is only the latest in a series of similar cases in Turkey, and is one of many developments that show growing authoritarianism and a blatant erosion of press freedom.” “Given that the current climate both in and around Turkey is becoming increasingly dangerous, the government is operating within a difficult context. But narrowing the space of free debate and cracking down on the expression of dissent serve to further divide and weaken the country”, said Johann Bihr, the head of RSF’s Eastern Europe and Central Asia desk. Turkey is ranked 149th out of 180 countries in the 2015 Reporters Without Borders press freedom index.