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6 May, 2016 17:32

Turkish court sentences two journalists to over 5yrs for 'leaking state secrets'

Turkish court sentences two journalists to over 5yrs for 'leaking state secrets'

Can Dundar and Erdem Gul, journalists from Turkey’s Cumhuriyet newspaper, have been convicted on charges of "revealing state secrets" and sentenced to over five years in prison by an Istanbul court.

Dundar,editor-in-chief of Cumhuriyet newspaper, was sentenced to five years and ten months in prison, while his colleague, who headed the paper’s Ankara bureau, got five years behind bars, Turkish Hurriyet daily reported on Friday.

The Turkish court has reportedly acquitted them on some of the charges, including that of “coup attempt,” according to the newspaper.

READ MORE: Turkish journalist sentenced for insulting Erdogan while on trial for previous offense 

The two had also faced life sentences for publishing their report which claims that Turkey has delivered weapons to terrorists in Syria. 

Earlier in March, the court named Turkey’s president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, as the complainant in the case. The hearings were held in secret.

The case of the two journalists, who faced charges for revealing state secrets, espionage, and aiding a terrorist group, has drawn international attention since the Erdogan critics were jailed last year.

Dundar and Gul were arrested in November of 2014 after publishing photos, videos, and a story earlier that year that they claimed showed officials from Turkey’s National Intelligence Agency (MIT) transporting arms to Syria in trucks, allegedly to opposition fighters.

READ MORE: 'Govt. trying to hide': Turkey closes then postpones trials of two leading opposition journalists

Just hours before the verdict was announced, Dundar was the target of an armed attack that took place in front of the Istanbul Caglayan courthouse. The assailant reportedly fired at least three shots at the journalist, who was not injured in the incident. The chief judge reportedly condemned the attack while announcing the court’s decision.

The opposition journalists' arrests have sparked protests in Turkey, while the international community has also slammed the government's action against them. Moscow has called the case an example of Ankara's "crackdown on the media."

READ MORE: 1st edition of Turkish Zaman daily after govt takeover sees smiling Erdogan on front page 

Dundar and Gul have repeatedly called for their acquittal, asserting that they had been arrested unlawfully, while maintaining that “journalism is not a crime.” Dundar told Reuters in March that they were “not defendants,” but rather “witnesses” in the case, adding that their arrest had been carried out in order “to punish us and to frighten others.”

Several Turkish academics also faced trial in Istanbul in April, when they were accused of spreading “terrorist propaganda.” The scholars are part of a group including over a thousand others who signed a petition earlier this year urging the Turkish government to end what they called a military intervention into the country’s predominantly Kurdish southeast. President Erdogan opened legal proceedings against some of the academics, while international human rights groups accused Ankara of using its anti-terrorism laws to silence criticism of the government and the president.