Turkish newspaper Cumhuriyet's editor-in-chief Can Dündar and the paper's Ankara bureau chief Erdem Gül are facing life sentences because of their reporting. The prosecutors have charged them with espionage, revealing state secrets and supporting a terrorist organisation. At the end of May 2015, their newspaper published a report containing evidence that the Turkish secret service supplied weapons to Islamists in Syria. Afterwards President Erdogan appeared on state television threatening that editor-in-chief Dündar would not go unpunished but pay a high price for publishing the report (http://t1p.de/p1eq). The trial against Dündar and Gül began at the end of March and will resume on 6 May.
During her visit to Berlin, Dilek Dündar and representatives of RSF Germany met two close counsellors to German Chancellor Angela Merkel, namely chief spokesman Steffen Seibert and chief foreign-policy advisor Christoph Heusgen. Seibert expressly mentioned the case of Can Dündar and Erdem Gül in a press conference two days later, adding that freedom of expression was not negotiable and also had to be applied in Turkey, where developments of the past few months gave cause for concern (http://t1p.de/9u4s, from 25’47”). On the part of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, human rights commissioner Bärbel Kofler had an exchange with Dündar.
Other interlocutors included Bundestag (Germany’s federal parliament) vice president Claudia Roth as well as deputies of all parliamentary groups, among them Jürgen Hardt (CDU/CSU) and Niels Annen (SPD), the foreign policy spokesmen of their respective parliamentary groups who form the government coalition. Dündar also addressed a session of the opposition Left Party’s parliamentary group and had discussions with the Left’s foreign policy working group as well as the CDU/CSU’s working group on human rights (http://t1p.de/xkye) and members of the German-Turkish Parliamentary Friendship Group.
A public panel discussion about the current situation of freedom of expression in Turkey, held at centrally located Maxim Gorki Theater, drew more than 100 people. The chairman of the German Journalists’ Association, one of the two main journalists’ unions in the country, met with Dilek and publicly underligned the association’s support for her husband and his colleague (http://t1p.de/8en7).
Dündar’s visit also drew considerable media interest, including interviews with ZDF national public television’s nightly news program “heute-journal” (http://t1p.de/7eea) and breakfast TV show “ZDF-Morgenmagazin” (https://www.ndr.de/fernsehen/sendungen/zapp/Der-tuerkische-Praesident-und-die-Presse-,tuerkei610.html), Deutschlandfunk national public radio (http://t1p.de/mqtn), renowned media magazine “Zapp” on NDR TV (http://t1p.de/a9vn), 3Sat TV cultural channel (http://t1p.de/huma) as well as WDR TV (http://t1p.de/gqiu) and RBB TV regional public broadcasters (http://t1p.de/l2zc), Swiss public radio SRF and “Die Welt” national daily (http://t1p.de/08ub).
Turkey ranks 149th out of 180 countries on the Reporters Without Borders Press Freedom Index. To find out more about the state of press freedom in Turkey please go to http://rsf.org/en/turkey. Rerporters Without Borders' most recent Turkey report is available for download here.
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