Turkey: Can Dündar facing a possible four and half years in prison for criminal defamation

English PEN shares PEN International’s serious concerns that writer, journalist and documentary filmmaker Can Dündar could face up to four and a half years in prison on charges of criminal defamation

PEN is deeply concerned by the ongoing trial of writer, journalist and documentary filmmaker Can Dündar for two articles he wrote in July 2014 in his column for the daily Cumhuriyet.

The first of these articles, ‘Erdoğan’s soft underbelly’, was published on 1 July 2014, and discussed the possible ramifications of Erdoğan’s presidency. The second article, ‘It is our right to read the police reports’, was published on 18 July 2014, and criticised the controversial handling of a major police investigation into alleged government corruption.

The charges of criminal defamation were brought following  an official complaint by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and his son Bilal Erdoğan. The public prosecutor is seeking a two year, four month prison sentence for defamation against President Erdoğan and a further two year, two month prison sentence for defaming his son.

President Erdoğan has previously tried to have Dündar tried for criminal defamation, but a May 2014 complaint was rejected before even going to trial.

PEN calls on the Turkish authorities to drop the charges against Dündar immediately, and continues to call on Turkey to decriminalise defamation at the earliest opportunity. We will be sending representatives to observe his second hearing, set to be heard on 26 February 2015.

For further background information, please visit the PEN International website.

Take Action

Send a message of support:

Please email your messages of support for Can Dündar to alev.yaman@pen-international.org and we will pass them on for you.

Please send appeals:

  • Calling on the Turkish authorities to decriminalise defamation and drop the case against Can Dündar;
  • Urging them to ensure that judges and prosecutors approach defamation cases involving politicians and senior public officials in accordance with the principles set out by the European Court of Human Rights in the case of Tuşalp v Turkey;
  • 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 criminal defamation 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
Email: cumhurbaskanligi@tccb.gov.tr
Twitter: @RT_Erdogan

Minister of Justice Bekir Bozdağ
Milli Müdafaa Caddesi No: 22
06659, Kızılay
Ankara, Turkey
Fax: +90 312 419 33 70
Email: bekir.bozdag@tbmm.gov.tr; ozelkalem@adalet.gov.tr
Twitter: @bybekirbozdag

His Excellency Mr. Abdurrahman Bilgic
Turkish Embassy
43 Belgrave Square
United Kingdom
Fax: +44 20 73 93 00 66, +44 20 73 93 92 13

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