Journalists freed a 'step against' Turkey

  • 12/03/2016
'Unlawful' journalist Can Dundar (Reuters)
'Unlawful' journalist Can Dundar (Reuters)

Turkey's President Tayyip Erdogan says a constitutional court ruling that led to the release of two detained newspaper editors is a step against the country, warning the court that repeating such actions could bring its very existence into question.

The constitutional court ruled last month that the detention of Can Dundar and Erdem Gul, editor-in-chief and Ankara bureau chief of the opposition Cumhuriyet newspaper, was "unlawful" and had violated their individual freedom and safety.

The two, who had been arrested in November on charges of intentionally aiding an armed terrorist organisation and publishing material in violation of state security, were subsequently released.

"This institution, with the involvement of its president and some members, did not refrain from taking a decision that is against the country and its people, on a subject that is a concrete example of one of the biggest attacks against Turkey recently," Erdogan told a rally in the southwestern city of Burdur on Friday (local time).

"I hope the constitutional court would not again attempt such ways which will open its existence and legitimacy up for debate," he said in a speech broadcast live on television.

Cumhuriyet published photos, videos and a report last May that it said showed intelligence officials transporting arms to Syria in trucks in 2014. Erdogan, who has cast the newspaper's coverage as part of an attempt to undermine Turkey's global standing, has said he will not forgive such reporting.

European leaders have warned Turkey, which aspires to membership of the European Union, over its record on freedom of expression, particularly since state-appointed administrators took over another opposition newspaper, Zaman, a week ago.