Constitutional Court General Assembly: Arrest of Can Dündar and Erdem Gül Violation of Rights

Source: Yahoo News

Source: Yahoo News

Turkey’s Constitutional Court General Assembly announced today its ruling on the arrest of Cumhuriyet daily Chief Editor Can Dündar and Ankara representative Erdem Gül in November this year, deciding that the imprisonment of the two was a rights violation. The decision was made by 12 votes to three in response to an appeal by Dundar and Gül to the Constitutional Court.

The Constitutional Court declared that “freedom of press and expression, right to personal security have been violated, their imprisonment is unlawful”. The two will be released, pending the final decision by the 14th Heavy Penal Court according to Bianet.

President Erdoğan personally filed the charges after the release of footage by Cumhuriyet on May 29 2015, reportedly showing MIT trucks transporting weapons and ammunition to Syria. Erdoğan has requested a life-sentence for Dündar.

An investigation was immediately launched against Cumhuriyet; and the gendarmerie and prosecutors who stopped the trucks were also arrested. They face similar charges as Dündar and Gül, including treason, spying, espionage and terrorism.

The government initially claimed the trucks were carrying aid, however subsequent statements from President Erdoğan indicated a tacit acceptance of Cumhuriyet’s accusations.

Today’s Zaman, a pro-Gülen newspaper, reported Erdoğan asking a group of teachers: “You know of the treason regarding the MİT trucks, don’t you? So what if there were weapons in them? I believe that our people will not forgive those who sabotaged this support.”

This decision will be welcomed various domestic and international human rights and press freedom organizations which have been campaigning against the arrests, as well as general deteriorations in civil liberties in Turkey.

In 2015, Turkey was ranked 149 out of 180 in the Reporters Without Borders press freedom index. Journalists and academics have come under increasing pressure of late and Turkey recently topped the ECHRs list on freedom of expression violations.

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