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Iran Press TV

Two opposition Turkish journalists stand trial over alleged links to Gulen

Iran Press TV

Wed Sep 21, 2016 3:30PM

Two prominent Turkish journalists have been put on trial on suspicion of aiding US-based opposition cleric, Fethullah Gulen, who is blamed for a recent failed military coup against the Ankara government.

In the trial that opened on Wednesday, Can Dundar, the former editor-in-chief of Turkey's Cumhuriyet daily, and the paper's Ankara bureau chief, Erdem Gul, faced up to three years in prison on charges of "knowingly and willingly" assisting the Gulen movement through the daily's reports in 2015 revealing Ankara's role in arming Takfiri terrorists operating in Syria.

According to Turkish authorities, the followers of the Gulen movement provided the images that accompanied the Cumhuriyet stories.

The sentences were "not given only to suppress and silence us," but to "intimidate the Turkish media and make us scared of writing," Dundar said on Wednesday.

Back in May, Dundar and Gul were sentenced to five years in prison for revealing what was said to be state secrets in a story on Ankara's role in arming Takfiri terrorists operating in Syria. They were acquitted of some other charges, including espionage and attempts to unseat the Turkish government.

Hours before the verdict was handed down, an assailant attempted to shoot Dundar.

The duo, however, were not immediately placed in detention as the court of appeal is yet to rule in the case.

Amnesty International's Europe and Central Asia Director John Dalhuisen also denounced the convictions as a "travesty of justice," adding that it "shows how the law has buckled and broken under political pressure in Turkey."

Dundar and Gul had been arrested in late November 2015 and spent 92 days in pre-trial detention, almost half of it in solitary confinement, before the constitutional court ruled in late February that the detention was unfounded.

The Turkish government, which was already under fire for clamping down on journalists and sentencing them to long prison terms, launched a sweeping crackdown on those believed to have played a role in the abortive July 15 putsch.

The coup began when a faction of the Turkish military declared it was in control of the country and the government was no more in charge.

Tanks, helicopters, and soldiers then clashed with police and people on the streets of the capital, Ankara, and Istanbul. Many people were killed on all sides in the attempted coup d'état.

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