Two Turkish journalists accused of spying remained defiant on the second day of their trial on Friday, in a case seen as a test of press freedom.
Can Dundar, editor-in-chief of leading opposition daily Cumhuriyet, and Erdem Gul, his Ankara bureau chief, are also charged with revealing state secrets over a story accusing the government of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan seeking to illicitly deliver arms to rebels in Syria.
The pair could face life in prison, but a defiant Dundar voiced optimism that they would be found not guilty at the Istanbul criminal court.
“We will win. We have always won throughout history,” the bespectacled editor told reporters. “We think the laws will show we are right and we will be acquitted.”
The prosecution has sparked outrage among opposition and rights groups in Turkey as well as in the West.
US President Barack Obama on Friday said he was troubled by Turkey’s clampdown on press freedom, the day after meeting Erdogan at the White House.
“It’s no secret that there are some trends within Turkey that I have been troubled with,” Obama said. “I think the approach they have been taking toward the press is one that could lead Turkey down a path that would be very troubling.”
Reporters Without Borders last year ranked Turkey 149th out of 180 countries for press freedom, citing the widening clampdown on critics of the president.
Turkish police last month seized control of top-selling opposition daily Zaman, drawing international condemnation.
As on the first day of the trial, which opened on Friday last week, the hearing in Istanbul was held behind closed doors for reasons of national security.
“It’s journalism that is on trial here. This trial should not be taking place,” Gul said. “We are defending information and freedom of expression. Justice will take its course.”
“There is no reason for this trial — journalism is not a crime,” he said.
A knot of supporters including opposition lawmakers and non-governmental organization staff members gathered outside the court, shouting: “You can’t gag press freedom.”
The pair were not remanded in custody when the court was adjourned, but they are forbidden from leaving the country before the trial resumes on April 22.
Cumhuriyet’s report on a shipment of arms being intercepted at the Syrian border in January 2014 sparked a furore when it was published in May, fueling speculation about Turkey’s role in the Syrian conflict and its alleged ties to Muslim militant groups in the country.
Erdogan responded to the allegations by telling Dundar he would “pay a heavy price.”
The court on Friday last week accepted the president and Turkey’s intelligence agency as civil plaintiffs in the case.
Dundar and Gul won a first victory on Feb. 26, when the Hungarian Constitutional Court ruled they should be freed.
EVOLVING SITUATION: Of the latest cases, 23 percent were found to be asymptomatic, but the coronavirus strain in Da Nang is more contagious, authorities said A COVID-19 outbreak that began in the Vietnamese city of Da Nang more than a week ago has spread to at least four city factories with a combined workforce of about 3,700, state media reported yesterday. Four cases were found at the plants in different industrial parks in the central city that collectively employ 77,000 people, the Lao Dong newspaper said. Vietnam, praised widely for its decisive measures to combat the novel coronavirus since it first appeared in late January, is battling new clusters of infection having gone for more than three months without detecting any domestic transmissions. Authorities yesterday reported one new
‘COVIDIOTS’: Politicians condemned the protest that came amid surging infections in the country, while a marcher said government-induced fear weakened the body Loudly chanting their opposition to masks and vaccines, thousands of people on Saturday gathered in Berlin to protest against COVID-19 restrictions before being dispersed by police. Police put turnout at about 20,000 — well below the 500,000 organizers had announced as they urged a “day of freedom” from months of virus curbs. Despite Germany’s comparatively low toll, authorities are concerned at a rise in infections over the past few weeks and politicians took to social media to criticize the rally as irresponsible. “We are the second wave,” shouted the crowd, a mixture of hard left and right and conspiracy theorists, as they converged
A cat that went missing on a family holiday on the shores of Loch Lomond, Scotland, has been identified 12 years later. Tortoiseshell-and-white Georgie spent October half term in 2008 with her owners at the Rowardennan campsite, but vanished as they were due to return home to Greater Manchester, England. After a search of the site the Davies family departed without Georgie, hoping the three-year-old microchipped feline would be located by someone. Over the intervening 12 years, she remained close to the Queen Elizabeth Forest Park site, being fed and cared for by campsite staff and holidaymakers. After the COVID-19 pandemic hit and lockdown
Three Micronesian sailors stranded on a remote Pacific island have been found alive and well after a rescue team spotted their giant SOS message written into the sand on a beach. Australian and US military aircraft found the three men on tiny Pikelot island, nearly 200km west of where they had set off. Rescuers said that the men were “in good condition” with no significant injuries. The men had been missing for three days after their 7m skiff ran out of fuel and strayed off course. Authorities in the US territory of Guam raised the alarm on Saturday after the men failed to complete