A Turkish court on Tuesday requested Interpol Red Notices for critical journalists Can Dündar and İlhan Tanır, both living in exile, on espionage charges, according to a report by Turkey’s state-run Anadolu news agency.
Since both Dündar, the Cumhuriyet daily’s former editor-in-chief, and Cumhuriyet reporter Tanır failed to appear before the İstanbul 27th High Criminal Court on Tuesday for a hearing, a public prosecutor requested the issuance of an Interpol Red Notice for the journalists, the agency said.
Dündar has been living in Germany since June 2016, while Tanır is based in Washington, D.C. Upon the prosecutor’s request, the court requested from the Justice Department the issuance of red notices on the grounds that statements could not be taken from the defendants.
In May 2016, the İstanbul 14th High Criminal Court had convicted Dündar following the publication of images showing arms and ammunition being transported to Syria in trucks belonging to Turkey’s National Intelligence Organization (MİT).
Dündar was arrested in late November 2015 and held in prison until Feb. 26, 2016, when Turkey’s Constitutional Court ruled that his rights had been violated and ordered his release.
Turkey’s Supreme Court of Appeals ruled on March 9 that Dündar should be convicted and handed a sentence of 15 to 20 years in jail on charges of “espionage.”
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 237 journalists and media workers were in jail as of October 7, 2018, most in pretrial detention. Of those in prison 169 were under arrest pending trial while only 68 journalists have been convicted and are serving their time. Detention warrants are outstanding for 148 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.