Exiled journalist’s wife: I am held hostage in Turkey

Dilek Türker Dündar

Dilek Türker Dündar, the wife of exiled Turkish journalist Can Dündar, complained about the human rights violations she has faced in Turkey since her husband fled the country and said she is being held hostage in a video she released on Monday.

Dilek Dündar said that despite the lack of any investigations into her, due to cases against her husband her passport was revoked and she has been prohibited from leaving Turkey since 2016. She said the police told her that her travel abroad was a threat to national security and asked how that could be the case.

Dilek Dündar also mentioned an attempt to kill her husband and asked why the gunman was released without any punishment and was able to keep his passport.

“I’m being held hostage to pressure my husband,” she said in the self-made video, adding that she was not even able to attend her son’s graduation abroad.

In addition, Dilek Dündar noted that because the regime had frozen their assets, she was unable to sell their summer home to pay the mortgage for their primary residence.

Can Dündar, a former editor of the opposition Cumhuriyet newspaper, was sentenced in 2016 to five years for publishing a video showing Turkey’s intelligence agency trucking weapons into Syria. He was released pending appeal and fled abroad. Dündar is also accused of disseminating the propaganda of the civic faith-based Gülen movement, which the Turkish government has branded as a terrorist organization.

Many journalists have faced the freezing of their assets as a form of punishment, while some have witnessed the persecution of their family members in their absence.

Dilek Dündar is only one of the thousands of spouses who has experienced the punishment of relatives in Turkey.

Thousands of women and children have fled Turkey to Greece and other neighboring countries to escape from Turkish government persecution following a coup attempt on July 15, 2016. 

In one case, police came to arrest prominent journalist Bülent Korucu, the editor-in-chief of the critical Yarına Bakış daily but instead arrested his wife, Hacer, on July 30, 2016. The police’s message was that she would be kept as a hostage until her husband surrendered himself. Hacer, a mother of five who had nothing to do with journalism other than being an avid reader of the daily her husband managed, was formally arrested on August 9, 2016. Police went to the Korucu home several times afterwards, threatening their children with jail as well. Hacer Korucu was released pending trial after a long detention subject to a travel ban.

The Turkish Interior Ministry announced at the end of 2017 that 234,419 passports had been revoked as part of investigations since July 15, 2016.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said last June that a passport ban for 181,500 of those people would be lifted. (SCF, turkishminute.com)

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