The Turkish judiciary has arrested Cumhuriyet editor-in-chief Can Dündar, along with the daily’s Ankara bureau chief, Erdem Gül, accusing them of espionage, revealing classified documents and being members of a terrorist organization.
Today’s Zaman reported on November 27 that the two journalists were summoned on Wednesday to testify in the probe launched into a Cumhuriyet investigative report in May. The report alleged arms were being transferred from Turkey to Syria in trucks operated by the National Intelligence Organization (MIT).
The report alleges the arms were going to extremist groups fighting against the Syrian regime.
The Turkish government denied the allegations, saying the trucks were carrying medical aid, and accused Dündar and Gül of treason and espionage.
On Thursday, the two journalists arrived at a courthouse in Istanbul to testify but instead they were arrested at the request of the prosecutor.
The arrest of Dündar and Gül has been condemned by progressive politicians and media, and the leader of the Republican People’s Party (CHP), Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, has been quoted as saying that the decision marks a “black day” for democracy and freedom.
Dündar reportedly reacted to the arrest by saying: “Don’t worry, these are medals of honour for us.”
Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan is personally suing Dündar and has called for a life sentence for the journalists.
Meanwhile, the Turkish government has banned any form of media coverage of the MIT trucks that were revealed by the Cumhuriyet through photos and reports to be carrying six steel containers containing 1,000 artillery shells, 50,000 machine gun rounds, 30,000 heavy machine gun rounds and 1,000 mortar shells.
Reporters Without Borders, which has awarded Cumhuriyet its prestigious Media of the Year prize, spoke out against the Turkish government’s increasing efforts to silence independent media.