Two more prominent Turkish journalists have been sentenced to jail time in what has been described as an active attempt by the Turkish government to intimidate and silence the nations free press.
Can Dündar, the editor-in-chief of Turkish daily Cumhuriyet, has been sentenced to 5 years and 10 months in jail and his colleague, Erdem Gül, to 5 years, both for the publication of secret state documents.
The prosecutors were originally calling for Mr. Dündar to face 25 years for procuring and revealing the secrets and for Mr. Gül to face 10 for publishing them, both are also still on trial for allegedly supporting an armed organization.
The state documents which the two are charged with reporting supposedly show Turkish intelligence agents shipping weapons into Syria. Specifically, a video showing Turkish security forces intercepting a convoy of trucks crossing into Syria in January of 2014 and discovering crates of weapons beneath boxes of medicine.
The journalists reported that the weapons were going to Islamic rebels fighting against the Syrian regime, while Turkish President Erdogan maintained that the shipments was simply bringing aide to the ethnic Turkish minority in Syria.
The report created a political firestorm and lawsuit against Erdogan in 2015, pushing him to publicly vow punishment towards the journalists.
Mr. Dündar accused Mr. Erdogan of creating a fervor of hatred towards the two and insinuating that this was why he was the target of a gunman’s assassination just 2 hours before the sentencing. While all of the gunman’s shots missed Mr. Dündar, a reporter on the scene was hit in the leg by a ricocheting bullet and has minor injuries.
Turkey is Currently 151st of 180 countries on the 2016 World Press Freedom Index, falling 2 spots since last year. There is almost 2,000 cases of insults against Mr. Erdogan currently in the Turkish court system, with journalist going on trial every few days.