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Can Dundar
Image: picture alliance/dpa/K. Nietfeld

Dundar quits as Cumhuriyet editor

August 15, 2016

The editor of a Turkish opposition daily is stepping down. Can Dundar, who was sentenced to prison for an article published in Cumhuriyet, says he no longer has faith in Turkey's judiciary after July's failed coup.


Can Dundar: No faith in Turkish judiciary

Can Dundar quit as Cumhuriyet's editor-in-chief on Monday, saying he had no faith in Turkey's legal system after President Recep Tayyip Erdogan imposed a renewable three-month state of emergency that suspends constitutional protections following a failed coup in July.

"To trust such a judiciary would be like putting one's head under the guillotine," Dundar wrote in "Time to Say Farewell," the column published on Monday. "From now on, what we face would not be the court but the government," he added. "I've decided not to surrender to this judiciary at least until the state of emergency is lifted," Dundar wrote.

In 2015, Cumhuriyet reported that Turkish officials shipped arms to Syrian rebels in 2014. Erdogan said Dundar would "pay a heavy price."

This May, on the same day that Dundar survived an attempt on his life outside the courthouse, he and a colleague were sentenced to prison on what observers call a trumped-up charge of revealing state secrets. The court allowed him to go free pending appeal, and he has since popped up at free speech events in Germany (pictured).

'Keep journalism alive'

Dundar, who has written several books and made documentary films, became Cumhuriyet's editor-in-chief in February 2015 and swiftly made it Turkey's sharpest opposition daily. On Monday, he said he would give up the post of editor-in-chief but would continue to write columns.

"At a time of heavy pressure when plenty of media outlets were forced to take the government line or volunteered to surrender, we worked all out to rightly defend the 'last bastion of the independent press' and protect the honor of reporting and keep journalism alive," he wrote in the column published in Cumhuriyet on Monday. "I'll never forget this experience all my life."

Reporters Without Borders (RSF) has accused Erdogan's regime of a post-coup "witch hunt." Authorities have closed 100 opposition media outlets, detained more than 40 journalists and banned many others from traveling abroad, RSF reported. Those held include the veteran journalist Nazli Ilicak, as well as Hanim Busra Erdal, the former correspondent for the daily Zaman newspaper, which had aligned itself with the Turkish opposition movement led by the Islamic cleric Fethullah Gulen, who lives in exile in the US state of Pennsylvania.

"The 42 newly detained journalists combined with those who were already in prison before the abortive coup makes Turkey the world champion in imprisoned media personnel," said Johann Bihr, head of the Eastern Europe and Central Asia desk at RSF.

mkg/ rc(AFP, epd, dpa)