1 Journalist Dead, 3 More Arrested After Exposing Turkey Arming Syrian Extremists, by Claire Bernish

From Claire Bernish at theantimedia.org:

(ANTIMEDIA) Istanbul, Turkey — Just over a week after Cumhuriyet Editor-in-Chief, Can Dündar, represented the Turkish daily news outlet in receiving a press freedom award, he and another top editor were arrested and jailed on charges of espionage. In question was a controversial article exposing arms shipments from Turkish intelligence to Syrian extremist rebels.

“We have been arrested,” tweeted Dündar on Thursday. “Don’t worry, these are medals of honor for us.”

He explained further: “We are accused of ‘spying.’ The president said ‘treason.’ We are not traitors, spy [sic], or heroes; we are journalists. What we have done here is an act of journalism,” said Dündar before testifying on Thursday. “Of course, this prosecution will help enlighten how these incidents took place, rather than how we covered this story.”

Now a third Turkish journalist has been arrested, according to local reports. Ertuğrul Özkök, a reporter for Turkish daily Hüriyet, has been arrested for a slanderous criticism of who is presumed to be Erdoğan — even though the president wasn’t explicitly named anywhere in Özkök’s article. As if more evidence of Turkey’s quashing free press and free speech were needed, Özkök potentially faces five years and four months in prison for expressing this opinion.

Dündar and Ankara correspondent, Erdem Gül, if found guilty on charges of spying, as well as aiding a terrorist organization, could spend the rest of their lives in a Turkish prison — for doing their job. There is a painfully ironic undercurrent in the charges considering the subject of the article is the Erdoğan administration’s complicity in arming Syrian extremists (read: terrorists).

Erdoğan himself sued Dündar and accused Cumhuriyet of releasing false information and spying when the story first exploded, stating at the time the journalist responsible would “pay a heavy price,” as the Wall Street Journal reported.

Despite Cunhuriyet’s recent honor from Reporters Sans Frontières (RSF, or Reporters Without Borders), under the paranoid, watchful eye of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, journalists — and dissenters — have faced sweeping general censorship. Dündar and Gül might be the most prominent recent examples of Erdoğan’s attempt to keep “state secrets” concealed from public scrutiny, but they’re not the first journalists to poke this particular sore spot.

In fact, the last time a reporter tried to expose Turkey’s complicity in arming Syrian extremists, she met an untimely and as-yet unexplained death under seriously suspicious circumstances that remain inscrutable to this day — even to her own family.

To continue reading: 1 Journalist Dead, 3 More Arrested After Exposing turkey Arming Syrian Extemists

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