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Turkish prosecutor seeks Interpol warrant for Dundar

September 29, 2017

Can Dundar, the former editor of Turkish daily Cumhuriyet, has been on trial in absentia in Turkey for alleged terrorist links. Dundar, who is living in exile in Germany, has also been nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize.

Deutschland Can Dündar gründet Özgürüz Online-Medium
Image: picture alliance/dpa/M. Gambarini

A Turkish prosecutor has called on the government to issue a so-called red notice with international policing body Interpol for the arrest of journalist Can Dundar.

The prosecutor, based in the southeastern Turkish province of Diyarbakir, sent the demand to the Turkish Ministry of Justice on Thursday. It accuses Dundar of "praising" the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), which is considered a terrorist group by Turkey and many of its NATO allies.

Dundar is wanted in Turkey for alleged terror links and disclosing state secrets, charges for which he is currently being trailed in absentia.

Read more: Former 'Cumhuriyet' editor Dundar: Decision time for Europe

In May 2016, Dundar was sentenced to five years and 10 months in prison for separate charges relating to a newspaper report that revealed alleged arms shipments from the Turkish government to an Islamist rebel group in Syria.

He was allowed to remain free throughout the course of the trial and fled to Germany in July 2016 after being found guilty.

Berlin says it will nix any warrant

On Friday the German Foreign Ministry nixed any hope that it would answer to an arrest warrant against Dundar. "Even with the best of will, I cannot imagine that such a warrant would ever be considered in Germany if it resulted in Mr. Dundar being arrested," Foreign Ministry spokesperson Martin Schäfer said.

In August, Ankara also issued an Interpol arrest warrant against German-Turkish author Dogan Akhanli, after he allegedly advocated on social media that Turkey's mass killing of Armenians in 1915 be recognized as genocide. The 60-year-old was detained by Spanish authorities while on holiday in the southern Spanish city of Granada, much to the German government's ire. He was released without charge a day later after the German government intervened.

Read more: Interpol: Who polices the world's police?

It remained unclear if and when the Turkish government would ask Interpol to issue an arrest warrant against Dundar. However, Interpol member states are not obligated to arrest those who have been flagged with such a red notice.

Nobel Prize nomination

Calls for Dundar's arrest coincided with the former Cumhuriyet editor-in-chief being featured on a personal shortlist for the Nobel Peace Prize.

"What a day: nomination for Nobel Peace Prize in the morning, search warrant with red notice in the evening," Dundar posted on Twitter.

Seventeen Cumhuriyet reporters and journalists are currently on trial in Istanbul on charges of supporting terror groups. All defendants reject the charges and accuse the prosecution of concealing evidence.

Critics see the trial as the government's attempt to crackdown on one of the last independent and critical voices in the Turkish press. More than 100 journalists are among the over 50,000 people jailed in the purge by Erdogan's government that followed the attempted coup in 2015. Nearly three times as many people have been detained, suspended or fired from public sector posts.

The wives of the imprisoned Turkish journalists

dm/kms (dpa, AFP)