Cumhuriyet EIC Can Dündar fined for insulting state officials, breaching investigation confidentiality

Published 25.04.2016 18:52
Updated 25.04.2016 23:33

The editor-in-chief of the daily Cumhuriyet, Can Dündar, was fined 28,650 Turkish Liras ($10,000) for insulting then-Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, his son Bilal Erdoğan, Transport Minister Binali Yıldırım and six others, and breaching investigation confidentiality, a court ruled on April 25.

The court ruled that Dündar had insulted public officials in a series of articles concerning the Dec. 17-25, 2013 corruption probes and allegations, which President Erdoğan and the ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party) say was a plot to overthrow the government by police officers and prosecutors linked to the controversial Gülen Movement.

Prosecutors sought up to nine years and four months of jail for Dündar for insulting nine people in two columns and a series of articles that he wrote.

Dündar was acquitted of violating investigation confidentiality and more "public insultment" charges in two other columns that he wrote.

The court also applied a reduction to Dündar's sentence stating he was a journalist and he did not have any criminal records.

"If revealing the truth is a crime, we will keep on committing it," Dündar wrote on his Twitter account after the trial ended, while he read out his articles in defense, daily Cumhuriyet reported.

"Since there are no concrete allegations, I'd like to use my related articles as my defense and would like to read all of them here," Dündar said in the hearing, while defending himself by saying that he only wrote what was written on official state documents.

Dündar, his lawyer Akın Atalay and the lawyers of the plaintiffs showed up to the courtroom. Atalay has said that they will appeal the decision.

Meanwhile, as the trial was underway, the U.S. Embassy in Turkey shared three tweets of President Barack Obama and State Secretary John Kerry's remarks on press freedom. In a separate trial in which Dündar and the newspaper's Ankara bureau chief Erdem Gül face espionage and terror organization membership charges, seven foreign diplomats were present in the courtroom and even posed for selfies with Dündar and Gül. The attitude of foreign diplomats was heavily criticized by Turkish officials for breaching neutrality and meddling with an ongoing judicial process.

Dündar and Gül are facing espionage and terror charges for releasing the confidential footage of the raid conducted against National Intelligence Organization (MİT) trucks. The government accuses Gülen Movement linked prosecutors and police officers for illegally conducting the raid to disrupt Turkey's image, while Dündar and Gül face charges for obtaining and publishing confidential footage. Two journalists were arrested on November 26, 2015 and released pending trial on February 25, 2016 upon a Constitutional Court decision.

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