Turkish journalist Can Dündar facing up to 35 years in jail on terror charges

A prosecutor in Istanbul has demanded that exiled Turkish journalist Can Dündar face up to 35 years in prison over charges of aiding and abetting a terrorist organisation and military/political espionage, daily BirGün reported on Wednesday.

The ongoing legal proceeding against Dündar is a retrial, following a higher court overturning the previous conviction of five years and 10 months in prison over charges of revealing state secrets.

The court has deemed Dündar, who has been living in Germany since 2016, a fugitive, and issued a warrant for his arrest while appealing for an Interpol red notice against the veteran journalist.

In September, after Dündar was classified as a fugitive, the court ordered for all his assets in Turkey to be seized unless he returned to the country within 15 days. Dündar failed to return, and the seizure was completed last week.

Speaking to Ahval in January, Dündar said he was made into a target after 2013, when Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan “realized threats against himself and tried to smash all the opposition, and I was one of them.”

Dündar is facing trial for a news story he followed in 2015, when Cumhuriyet newspaper released footage showing officials from Turkey’s intelligence service MİT transporting by trucks more than 80,000 rounds of ammunition and various other weaponry, allegedly to Turkey-backed rebels in Syria. Dündar, as the editor-in-chief at Cumhuriyet at the time, faced charges of revealing state secrets, along with Cumhuriyet’s Ankara reporter Erdem Gül.

The pair were also said to have reported on what came to be known as the MİT trucks incident to support and make propaganda for the Gülen movement, an Islamist network led by U.S.-based cleric Fethullah Gülen.

Turkey holds Gülen responsible for the failed coup attempt of July 15, 2016.

In 2018, 14 members of Cumhuriyet’s staff were sentenced to jail on similar charges of terrorism and Gülenist propaganda.

Dündar’s Germany-based Özgürüz (“We are free”) platform has been blocked in Turkey numerous times, and he remains one of the most-wanted critical voices against Erdoğan outside of Turkey.

The next hearing for the award-winning journalist and documentary filmmaker’s trial will be held on Dec. 4.

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