An İstanbul court on Monday issued an arrest warrant and sought an Interpol red notice for exiled Turkish journalist Can Dündar, the former editor-in-chief of critical Cumhuriyet daily, in a case involving the much-publicized Turkey’s notorious National Intelligence Organization (MİT) trucks that allegedly carried weapons, ammunition and supply to radical Islamist terror groups in Syria in 2014.
Cumhuriyet daily had released footage showing gendarmerie and police officers opening crates in the backs of MİT trucks which contained what the daily described as weapons and ammunition sent to Syria by the MİT in January 2014 in the southern province of Adana.
Speaking to Deutsche Welle following the İstanbul court’s decision on Monday, Dündar said the court’s move is aimed at intimidating him, while he called on Interpol to examine Red Notice requests from Turkey with care because they are politically motivated.
The journalist also said he does not know why the Turkish court is seeking his extradition from Belgium and not Germany.
“I went to Belgium last week. Maybe they saw me there, I don’t know. You just get an idea about the situation of the Turkish judiciary from this,” said the journalist.
Dündar has been living in Germany since June 2016 and faces detention warrants as part of two separate probes in Turkey. He was arrested in November 2015 on charges of espionage, helping a terrorist organization, trying to topple the government and revealing state secrets after publishing reports on the alleged covert arms deliveries by the Turkish intelligence to Syrian radical Islamist militants.
The Committee to Protect Journalists called on Turkish authorities on Monday to drop the case against journalist Can Dündar and urged the Interpol to reject the ‘red notice’ for the arrest of the journalist who is in in exile in Germany.
“We call on Turkish authorities to stop their long-standing prosecution of Can Dündar and allow him to live and work freely,” CPJ Europe and Central Asia Program Coordinator Nina Ognianova said. “We also urge Interpol to reject Turkey’s request for a red notice for Dündar, whose only ‘crime’ is the practice of independent journalism,” she added.
Turkey is the biggest jailer of journalists in the world. The most recent figures documented by SCF show that 245 journalists and media workers were in jail as of March 26, 2018, most in pretrial detention. Of those in prison 189 were under arrest pending trial while only 56 journalists have been convicted and are serving their time. Detention warrants are outstanding for 140 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 about 200 media outlets after the controversial coup attempt on July 15, 2016.