Gunman who assaulted Turkish journalist sentenced to 10 months in prison

The Turkish court overseeing the case of an armed assault against journalist Can Dündar has sentenced Murat Şahin, one of three suspects in the attack, to 10 months in prison and ordered him to pay a fine of TL 4,500 ($750), while the two other defendants were acquitted, the T24 news website reported on Tuesday.

Şahin was sentenced to 10 months in prison on charges of carrying a firearm without a permit, while the fine was imposed for attempting to commit “willful injury.”

Dündar, the former editor-in-chief of the Cumhuriyet newspaper, was the target of an armed assault in May 2016 in front of a courthouse in İstanbul.

He was at the venue to attend his trial for reporting on trucks carrying weapons to Syria that allegedly belonged to Turkish intelligence.

Following his report, he was faced with a barrage of denunciatory and menacing remarks by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan that were echoed by several pro-government columnists.

While he was spared the attack thanks to his wife’s quick reaction to stop the assailant, NTV correspondent Yağız Şenkal, who was also on the scene, was injured.

Dündar reacted to the ruling via Twitter and claimed it was a “medal given to someone who fired a gun at a journalist.”

“It is also a message of support to those who intend to shoot at journalists in the future: ‘Do not hesitate. The government has your back.’” Dündar tweeted.

Dündar also protested that the suspect was only sentenced for the injury to the NTV correspondent and that he was acquitted of the attempted assault on his life because it failed. “Should we have died?” Dündar asked.

On the other hand, Dündar argued that the court’s ruling confirmed that Erdoğan was lying when he claimed Dündar had been convicted.

He tweeted a picture of the record of proceedings in which the court said Dündar’s other trials were ongoing and that thus far there had been no verdict of conviction against him.

At a press conference during a state visit to Germany last week, Erdoğan claimed that Dündar was a spy responsible for revealing state secrets and that he had been sentenced to five years, 10 months in prison.

“Even though he fled to Germany, this person is a convicted felon and a spy, as far as the Turkish judiciary is concerned,” Erdogan said.

Turkey is ranked 157th among 180 countries in the 2018 World Press Freedom Index released by Reporters Without Borders (RSF). If Turkey falls two more places, it will make it to the list of countries on the blacklist, which have the poorest record in press freedom.

Turkey is the biggest jailer of journalists in the world. The most recent figures documented by SCF show that 236 journalists and media workers were in jail as of September 20, 2018, most in pretrial detention. Of those in prison 168 were under arrest pending trial while only 68 journalists have been convicted and are serving their time. Detention warrants are outstanding for 147 journalists who are living in exile or remain at large in Turkey.

Detaining tens of thousands of people over alleged links to the Gülen movement, the government also closed down some 200 media outlets, including Kurdish news agencies and newspapers, after a coup attempt in Turkey on July 15, 2016. (SCF with turkishminute.com)

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