Aggravated life sentences sought for journalists in Turkey unacceptable, OSCE Representative says

VIENNA, 28 January 2016 – The severe charges against journalists Can Dündar and Erdem Gül could further increase the already critical pressure that opposing voices face in the country, OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media Dunja Mijatović said today.

“I am deeply concerned with the punishment sought against Dündar and Gül for their work. It is extreme and disproportionate,” Mijatović said.

On 27 January, indictments prepared by the Istanbul Deputy Chief Public Prosecutor called for an aggravated life sentence, an additional life sentence, as well as 30 years in prison for Dündar and Gül for revealing state secrets in a May 2015 report.

Dündar, the editor-in-chief of Cumhuriyet, and Gül, the newspaper’s Ankara bureau chief, are accused of obtaining information related to state security, political and military espionage, publishing confidential information, and carrying out propaganda activities for a terrorist organization.

Turkish and international human rights organizations and media NGOs have been protesting the arrest of the journalists, calling for increased protection of freedom of expression in the country.

“These life sentences, which are being sought, send a message to society that critical views will be silenced,” Mijatović said. “Freedom of expression cannot stop at views deemed acceptable by the authorities. It must urgently be extended to all issues of public importance, including sensitive ones.”