Can Dündar and Erdem Gül facing life imprisonment

In January 2016, it was announced that the İstanbul Deputy Chief Public Prosecutor is seeking an aggravated life sentence against Cumhuriyet journalists Can Dündar and Erdem Gül. The indictment shared with their lawyers on 27 January seeks an aggravated life sentence, an ordinary life sentence  and 30 years of imprisonment on charges including obtaining and revealing state secrets ‘for espionage purposes’ and seeking to violently overthrow the Turkish government as well as aiding an ‘armed terrorist organisation’.  The sentences sought are much heavier than expected.

Can Dündar, the editor-in-chief of Turkish daily Cumhuriyet, and his Ankara bureau chief Erdem Gül have been detained since their arrest on the evening of 26 November in connection with a criminal complaint filed against them by President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in June 2015. The criminal complaint was over an earlier news story, when they had published video and photographic evidence in Cumhuriyet of arms deliveries by the Turkish intelligence services to Islamist groups in Syria. Dündar was accused of trying to manipulate justice with fabricated material and violating confidentiality: President Erdoğan personally warned him afterwards that he would ‘pay a price’ over the publication of the story.

Meanwhile, the Turkish authorities are still not allowing supporters to visit the journalists in prison.

For further background information visit the PEN International website.


Send a message of support

To show our ongoing support for Can Dündar and Erdem Gül, English PEN are asking our supporters to take a moment to send them messages of support.

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We would also encourage any PEN member visiting or living in Turkey to apply to İstanbul’s Silivri Prison to visit Dündar and Gül, and to consider taking part in the ‘Hope Watch’. Email for more details.

Sign the petition

Please sign and share the Reporters Without Borders petition for their release

Send appeals to the Turkish authorities

  • Expressing serious concern at the arrest and detention of journalists Can Dündar and Erdem Gül on 26 November 2015 on espionage and national security charges, which PEN believes has been a politically-motivated move attempting to censor and silence opposition voices;
  • Calling for the immediate and unconditional release of both journalists;
  • Calling on the Turkish authorities to drop all charges against Can Dündar and any other Cumhuriyet staff members which are connected solely to their peaceful exercise of freedom of expression in their duties as journalists;
  • Reminding them that Turkey has the obligation to respect the right to freedom of expression under the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), to which it is a state party.

In your letters to the President, please also:

  • Ask him to stop bringing cases against writers and journalists engaging in legitimate political criticism.

Appeals to:

President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan
Cumhurbaşkanlığı Sarayı
06560, Beştepe
Ankara, Turkey
Fax: +90 312 525 58 31
Twitter: @RT_Erdogan

Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu
Vekaletler Caddesi Başbakanlık Merkez Bina
P.K. 06573; Kızılay, Ankara

Minister of Justice Bekir Bozdağ
Milli Müdafaa Caddesi No: 22
06659, Kızılay
Ankara, Turkey
Fax: +90 312 419 33 70
Twitter: @bybekirbozdag

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This content is published by the English PEN staff.

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