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Turkish journalist bags 27 years jail term in absentia

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Turkish journalist, Can Dundar, who lives in exile in Germany, was handed more than 27 years in prison by an Istanbul court on Wednesday.

He was sentenced on charges of espionage and aiding a terrorist organization.

Dundar got 18 years and 9 months for obtaining state secrets for the purpose of political or military espionage.

However, he was acquitted of the allegations of disclosing secret information.

The court also sentenced him to an additional 8 years and 9 months for supporting an armed terrorist organization,
without being a member.

The former editor-in-chief of Turkish newspaper, Cumhuriyet fled to Germany in 2016 and was tried in absentia.

“We knew that this would not be a fair trial,’’ Dundar’s lawyer Abbas Yalcin told dpa by phone.

He described the verdict as politically motivated, citing President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s recent remarks targeting Dundar.

Yalcin also said the defense will appeal against the ruling at Turkey’s Supreme Court of Appeal.

German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas called the verdict a “hard blow for independent journalistic work in Turkey” in a post on Twitter.

“Journalism is an indispensable service to society also and especially when it takes a critical look at those in power,’’ he wrote.

The trial centres around Cumhuriyet’s coverage in 2015 of Turkish intelligence sending arms shipments in trucks to Islamist rebels in Syria.

In 2014, gendarmerie officers stopped National Intelligence Service (MIT) trucks at the Turkish border town of Hatay on their way to Syria, in defiance of government orders.

The officers related to the truck incident were accused of links to U.S based Islamic cleric Fethullah Gulen, and some of them were handed jail sentences in 2019

Ankara blames Gulen for a coup attempt in 2016 by a faction in the military and labels his movement a terrorist group.

Dundar’s lawyers were not present at the hearing in Caglayan courthouse.

The court has demanded Dundar’s arrest and repatriation.

In October, the court declared Dundar a fugitive, seizing all his assets in Turkey. (NAN)

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