Can Dündar, the former editor-in-chief of the opposition Cumhuriyet daily, was imprisoned on November 26, 2015, along with the newspaper’s Ankara representative Erdem Gül in relation with a news report on an alleged weapons transfer on trucks operated by the National Intelligence Agency (MİT) to Syria.
The two journalists were put under arrest on charges of “acquiring documents related to state security,” “political and military espionage,” “disclosing classified documents” and “spreading propaganda on behalf of a terrorist organization.”
Ninety-two days into their imprisonment, on February 25, 2016, Dündar and Gül were released following a Constitutional Court ruling that found rights violations in their imprisonment.
On May 6, 2016, Dündar was handed down a prison sentence of seven years, reduced to five years and ten months, for “acquiring and disclosing classified documents related to state security.” The court acquitted both Gül and Dündar of the charge of “attempting to overthrow the government.” It also ruled to treat other accusations related to the same report – “aiding FETÖ/PDY terrorist organization without being its member” — as a different case.
The court also dismissed the military espionage charge, saying it was unable to establish any connection to an agreement with a foreign nation or a terrorist organization.
Despite the sentencing, Dündar remained free, pending the outcome of appeal.
The indictment into Dündar, Gül and the opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) deputy Enis Berberoğlu, who is accused of providing footage of the trucks intercepted near the border with Syria, sought between 7.5 to 15 years for all three suspects on the charge of “knowingly aiding a terrorist organization without being its member” and an additional life sentence for Berberoğlu on charges of “disclosing classified documents for political or military espionage purposes.”
On May 24, 2017, the seventh hearing in the trial was held by Istanbul 14th High Criminal Court. The court adjourned trial until June 14.
At the end of the hearing on June 14, the court ruled to sentence Berberoğlu to life imprisonment, reduced to 25 years in jail, and immediately ordered his detention, while deciding to separate the charge of “knowingly aiding a terrorist organization without being its member” from the file.
Dündar is also suspect in a separate case against 19 former and current journalists and executives of Cumhuriyet. Prosecutor seeks up to 15 years in prison for Dündar on the charge of “aiding a terrorist organization without being its member.” A warrant was issued for Dündar’s arrest as part of the Cumhuriyet case on October 30, 2016.
During the seventh and latest hearing of that trial on March 16, 2018, overseen by the 27th High Criminal Court of Istanbul, the prosecutor submitted his final opinion, demanding prison sentences for 14 members of the staff of Cumhuriyet. In its interim decision, the court ruled to postpone the trial to April 24-27, 2018, awaiting the execution of arrest warrants for Dündar and another co-defendant in the case, İlhan Tanır, who both live abroad. The defendants will present their final defense statements at the next hearing to be held over four days from April 24-27 in Silivri.
(You can read the full indictment into Cumhuriyet journalists and executives here — in Turkish).
On December 22, 2016, another arrest warrant was issued for Dündar in a case in which he faces up to three years in prison for “publishing statements of terrorist organizations” in connection with his role in a solidarity campaign with the pro-Kurdish Özgür Gündem daily, which was later closed down with an emergency decree. Dündar was one of the scores of journalists who symbolically edited Özgür Gündem for a day in the summer of 2016 as part of the solidarity campaign.