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EU says charges against Turkey journalists ‘worrying’

The European Union (EU) has expressed concern over the arrest of two Turkish journalists on “espionage” charges after reports by the pair blew the lid off Ankara’s arms delivery to the Takfiri terror groups operating in neighboring Syria.   

“Freedom of expression is one of the fundamental principles for the EU  … (and) we have raised these concerns repeatedly with the Turkish authorities,” European Commission foreign affairs spokeswoman Maja Kocijancic told reporters in Brussels on Friday.

Kocijancic added that the 28-ation bloc is “following these worrying developments very closely.”

The EU official’s comments came a day after a prosecutor in Turkey demanded that Can Dundar, editor-in-chief of center-left Turkish daily newspaper Cumhuriyet along with the paper’s Ankara representative Erdem Gul appeared in court in Istanbul to face charges of “espionage and treason.”

Cumhuriyet says the charges carry up to 45 years in prison altogether.

Outside the courthouse Dundar told reporters that the government wants to cover up their paper’s revelations, stressing, “There is a crime that has been committed by the state that they are trying to cover up.”

“We came here to defend journalism. We came here to defend the right of the public to obtain the news and their right to know if their government is feeding them lies. We came here to show and to prove that governments cannot engage in illegal activity and to defend this,” the journalist added.

Meanwhile, Turkish people staged a protest rally on Friday outside the Istanbul premises of the Cumhuriyet newspaper in support of the paper’s two journalists.

The demonstrators, who included journalists and members of the parliament, chanted anti-government slogans such as “Shoulder to shoulder against fascism,” and “Tayyip thief, Tayyip liar, Tayyip killer,” referring to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who has taken legal action in person against Dundar, requesting life sentence for him.

Similar protests were also held outside the Ankara office of Cumhuriyet.

Damning revelations

The daily Cumhuriyet posted on its website in late May footage showing trucks belonging to Turkey’s National Intelligence Organization (MIT) carrying weapons to the Takfiri terror groups operating in neighboring Syria. The Cumhuriyet video also shows trucks of the MIT being inspected by security officers.

The daily reported the trucks were carrying around 1,000 mortar shells, hundreds of grenade launchers and more than 80,000 rounds of ammunition for light and heavy weapons.

The interception of Syria-bound weapons consignments took place in January 2014 in Turkey, when a convoy of MIT trucks loaded with arms and ammunition was stopped and searched near the Syrian border in the southern provinces of Hatay and Adana.

Several security officials who stopped the trucks are currently being tried for “spying” charges.

The incident triggered a huge controversy in Turkey with many bashing the government for explicitly supporting terrorism in neighboring Syria.


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