ErdoIan files criminal complaint against Dundar, press aocacy bodies show solidarity with journalist

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has filed a criminal complaint against Cumhuriyet Editor-in-Chief Can Dandundar on the grounds that Dandundar andquotpublished a video that includes images and information contrary to facts,andquot even as a number of journalists and press aocacy bodies at home and abroad showed solidarity with Dandundar on Tuesday.
Erdoganand’s legal counsel Muammer Cemaloilu submitted the petition to the Ankara Chief Public Prosecutorand’s Office on Tuesday, claiming that andquotDandundar took part in a crime committed by parallel state members who intercepted MiT trucks unlawfully by publishing a fake video recording which was leaked by the parallel state to Dandundar to depict the Turkish state as assisting some terrorist groups.andquot
However, the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) has condemned Erdoganand’s legal threats against Dandundar after Cumhuriyet published photos showing Turkeyand’s intelligence agency sending weapons to Syria, calling on the president not to oppress the media over coverage that he does not like.
and”We call on Recep Tayyip Erdogan to stop bullying journalists and news outlets such as Can Dandundar and Cumhuriyet just because he doesnand’t like what they report,and” CPJ Europe and Central Asia Program Coordinator Nina Ognianova said in an article released on the CPJand’s website on Tuesday. and”The presidentand’s statements have often served as cues for Turkish prosecutors to initiate punitive legal action against the governmentand’s critics.and”
Erdogan personally threatened Dandundar during a live interview broadcast on the state-run TRT Haber news station on Sunday night, saying he had filed a lawsuit against Dandundar and vowing that the editor-in-chief will pay a heavy price for his actions. and”I wonand’t let him go [unpunished],and” Erdogan said on the live broadcast.
In a headline story last Friday, Cumhuriyet published images from a video in an investigation file proving that National Intelligence Organization (MiT) trucks had carried weapons, contradicting the governmentand’s earlier claim that they were only carrying humanitarian aid to Turkmens in war-torn Syria.
Erdogan, who claimed that the dailyand’s sole aim in publishing the report on the trucks operated by MiT was to tarnish Turkeyand’s image, accused Cumhuriyet of being involved in spying because it published the report.
In its article, the CPJ also voiced its concern about an investigation opened against Dandundar by a public prosecutor, saying, and”Turkeyand’s vague terrorism and penal laws are frequently used by authorities to punish critical journalists, CPJ research shows.and”
Upon the publication of the story, the Istanbul Chief Prosecutorand’s Office quickly launched an investigation into Dandundar, the author of the report, for breaching counterterrorism laws. Istanbul Public Prosecutor irfan Fidan, who is overseeing the investigation, also asked the court to issue a gag order on all publications that feature photos or videos from the investigation file that displays the search of the cargo in the intercepted trucks.
He claimed the leak harms the national security of Turkey and taints the international reputation of the government. Fidan, who the government is believed to have tasked with derailing critical probes incriminating President Erdogan and his family members and associates, previously ordered the detention of the 34 military officers who intercepted the trucks. Half of these officers were later arrested by the court.
The CPJ underlined that Erdogan, while formerly as prime minister and currently as president, and”has led an anti-press campaign, personally filing defamation lawsuits against journalists, publicly lashing out against critics, and pressuring news organizations to rein in critical staffers.and”
and”These actions have sown widespread self-censorship as news outlets and their journalists, fearful of financial, professional, or legal reprisals, shy away from sensitive topics, CPJ research shows.and”
h2RSF calls on Erdogan to stop threatening journalists over Syrian arms reporth2 The worldand’s leading press aocacy body, Reporters Without Borders (RSF), has also called on President Erdogan to stop threatening journalists and interfering in the judiciary, voicing support for the Cumhuriyet daily. Condemning the Turkish governmentand’s pressure on Cumhuriyet, the RSF voiced concern over Erdoganand’s threats to Dandundar.
and”We call on the president to stop threatening the media and stop meddling in the judicial system, and we call on the Istanbul prosecutorand’s office to immediately abandon its prosecutions,and” said Johann Bihr, the head of the RSFand’s Eastern Europe and Central Asia desk.
and”The Turkish governmentand’s Syria policy is an important topic that the Turkish public must be able to debate. The public has a right to know whether its government has delivered arms, and to whom. If the government now finds itself with its back to the wall, it cannot blame Cumhuriyet, which just did its job,and” he added.
The Green Party in Germany has described the increasing pressure on the media in Turkey as and”worrying,and” urging the European Union to issue a stern rebuke to Ankara over deteriorating human rights and democratic values in the country.
and”The recent developments in Turkey are worrying. The Turkish president criticizes foreign press representatives and prominent Turkish journalists in the country are threatened. It is essential for a democratic state of law to ensure free media coverage. However, the government in Turkey seems far away from this,and” Green Party media and politics spokesperson Tabea RandOssner said in an interview with Todayand’s Zaman on Tuesday.
Mentioning that Turkey now ranks among countries with the highest number of imprisoned journalists, RandOssner said the continuing crackdown on critical media results in self-censorship by most of the media in the country, something that is against the values of an EU country. According to RandOssner, the European Union should step up its criticism of Turkey. andquotEurope must insist that the Turkish government respect human rights and democratic values,andquot she said.
Prosecutors launched a terrorism investigation into Dandundar on Friday hours after the daily published the photos of arms which it said were transferred to Syria in trucks operated by MiT. Dandundar is now among a number of people under investigation on charges of andquotmembership in a terrorist organization, coup attempt and political and military espionage,andquot according to the Al Jazeera Tandurk website.
The trucks in question were intercepted by gendarmes on two occasions in January 2014 after prosecutors received tip-offs that they were illegally carrying arms to Syria. There have been allegations that the arms were going to extremist groups fighting against the Syrian regime. Ankara, on the other hand, insisted that the trucks were carrying aid to Syrian Turkmens and branded their interception as an act of andquottreasonandquot and andquotespionage.andquot
The photos, published on the dailyand’s front page, show steel containers filled with mortar shells and ammunition underneath boxes of medicine. The daily also published a video showing the containers on trucks being opened and searched by gendarmes.
Cumhuriyet said the trucksand’ cargo included 1,000 shells, 1,000 mortar shells, 50,000 machine gun bullets and 30,000 heavy weapons bullets.
h2h2 h2andlsquoDandundar showed great journalismand’h2 In addition to the support given by leading press organizations around the world, local journalists have also spoken up for Dandundar. Bugandun Editor-in-Chief Erhan Baiyurt told Todayand’s Zaman Dandundar displayed great journalism by publishing the video footage of trucks that were allegedly loaded with weapons.
andquotInstead of accusing him of treason for what he revealed, Dandundar should be awarded for his triumph. He contributed to the issue of those MiT trucks being cleared up. If the video showing those weapons is authentic and Turkey indeed sent weapons to groups fighting in Syria, then the government should explain it,andquot Baiyurt said.
Making a statement on behalf of Cumhuriyet, columnist Aydin Engin accused Erdogan of engaging in cruelty to journalists in an effort to cover up his own offenses, adding: andquotA journalistand’s job is to reveal the dirty business of the state otherwise, it is not called journalism. Some governments whose offenses are exposed by journalists resort to cruelty to hush up these offenses. Since there is no law that binds those who are powerful, life turns out to be more difficult for journalists.and”
Berlin-based Lamiya Adilgizi contributed to this report.

SOURCE: Today’s Zaman