Leading Turkish Opposition Newspaper Editor Quits Amid Failed Coup Crackdown

Can Dündar, has quit as editor of Cumhuriyet, one of Turkey’s leading opposition newspapers, as he faces an appeal of a five years and 10 month prison term for allegedly revealing state secrets, media reports say.

Turkish opposition Cumhuriyet daily's editor-in-chief Can Dundar and Ankara bureau chief Erdem Gul (3R) leave the Istanbul courthouse on the second day of their trial, April 1, 2016
AFP

Can Dundar has quit as editor of Cumhuriyet, one of Turkey’s leading opposition newspapers, as he faces an appeal of a five years and 10 month prison term for allegedly revealing state secrets, media reports say.

In a column for the newspaper entitled “Time to say Farewell”, Dundar said he would not surrender to the judiciary, which he said has been compromised by a state crackdown following the failed July 15 coup, The Guardian writes.

Dundar was sentenced in May over a story about a shipment of arms intercepted at the Syrian border two years ago, that angered Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. He was allowed to go free pending the appeal, and is believed to have left Turkey for Germany. He had previously said that he would not return to Turkey until the state of emergency is over.

Dundar writes that a period of “lawlessness” is under way and accuses Turkey of using a state of emergency as a pretext to control the judiciary.

“To trust such a judiciary would be like putting one’s head under the guillotine,” he writes.

The author of several books and documentaries Dundar served as editor in chief of the Cumhuriyet since February 2015. He quickly made it Turkey’s most vocal opposition paper, the Guardian said.

Dundar and his Ankara bureau chief, Erdem Gul, spent three months in pre-trial detention before being freed in February under a constitutional court ruling.

Both men were acquitted of espionage at their trial about the story which alleged that weapons being sent to rebels fighting the government of Syria's President Bashar Assad, writes the BBC.

Turkey insisted the lorries were taking aid to Syria's Turkmen minority, a Turkic-speaking ethnic group.

Reporters without Borders has accused Erdogan of launching a witch hunt against journalists since the failed coup, closing more than 100 media outlets critical of the government.

Forty two journalists have been placed in detention and many have been barred from travelling abroad, the organization says.