Can Dündar, the former editor-in-chief of the anti-Islamist Turkish newspaper Cumhuriyet, received a 27-year prison sentence Wednesday for allegedly aiding a terrorist group by publishing a news story.
Dündar left Turkey in 2016, stepping down from the top post at Turkey’s oldest national newspaper, following a public assassination attempt on the steps of the courthouse. Cumhuriyet has endured police action and prosecutions at all levels — from editor-in-chief to cafeteria cook — for publishing stories unfavorable to Islamist President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
Dündar and his Ankara bureau chief, Erdem Gül, initially faced legal action in 2016 after publishing a report that Erdogan was using Turkey’s intelligence infrastructure to smuggle weapons into Syria, to aid rebels fighting dictator Bashar al-Assad. Erdogan publicly opposed Assad’s rule and has repeatedly referred to him as a “terrorist,” but the bombshell report revealed Erdogan was also covertly aiding Assad’s enemies. The Cumhuriyet report featured photos of the alleged smuggled weapons.