Erdogan: 'I don’t respect court ruling to free Cumhuriyet journalists'

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan © Murad Sezer
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said he doesn’t want to ‘respect’ court decision on the release of Cumhuriyet journalists who were detained after publishing a report showing intelligence officials transporting arms to Syria.

“I will remain silent on the decision the court has given. But I don't need to accept it, I want to make that clear. I don't obey or respect the decision,” Erdogan told reporters on Sunday. “This has nothing to do with press freedom. This is a case of spying.”

Editor-in-chief Can Dundar and Ankara bureau chief Erdem Gul were released from Silivri jail near Istanbul on Friday. The journalists, who had been imprisoned since November, were greeted by family and supporters.

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The two were released after Turkey's Constitutional Court ruled that their "rights to personal liberty and security" and "freedom of expression and freedom of press" had been violated. The decision was approved by 12 members of the court, with three dissenting, according to Turkish media.

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Cumhuriyet newspaper reported that a Turkish convoy that was presumably hit by an airstrike in northwestern Syria was transporting weapons to terrorist organizations.

Can Dundar, editor-in-chief of the Cumhuriyet newspaper © Murad Sezer

The paper repeatedly revealed proof of ties between the Turkish military and Islamic State fighters operating on the Syrian-Turkish border.

Ankara turns off independent TV during interview with Cumhuriyet journos, cites ‘terrorist propaganda’

Ankara pulled an independent Turkish TV channel off the air during a live interview with Dundar and Gul on Friday. The channel officials claim it was "clearly a political decision."

Public Prosecutor Ramazan Dinç demanded Turkey's satellite provider Turksat to stop the broadcasts of IMC TV, a Turkish nationwide channel, local media reported. The official reason for pulling the plug was channel’s “terrorist propaganda” in favor of the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) and Kurdistan Communities Union (KCK).

“In Turkey, everything contrary to the official view is tossed into the terrorism bag…This was clearly a political decision. The prosecutor has no legal right to seek our closure based on an allegation,” the channel’s general coordinator Eyup Burc said, as cited by Reuters. He denied any links between the channel and terrorists.

IMC TV wrote on Facebook that now it is only available via satellite channels.

“The situation of freedom of the press and freedom of expression in Turkey is miserable,” IMC News Coordinator Faruk Eren said, as cited by Today’s Zaman.

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The broadcast was stopped right in the middle of the interview with Dundar and Gul.

“This was done deliberately, to send a message to the media: that Can Dundar and Erdem Gul may have been released due to the public outcry, but that doesn't mean the government is retreating from its course,” Burc said.

Istanbul-based IMC TV, which was founded in 20011, has repeatedly covered the Kurdish-Turkish conflict. In November it reported extensively about how a small pro-Kurdish town of Silvan has become a hotspot after the Turkish military launched an operation.