Exiled Turkish journalist Can Dündar (54) was stripped of his assets and declared a fugitive by an Istanbul court on Wednesday, Turkish media reported.
The Istanbul 14th High Criminal Court had given Dündar a 15 day-notice to return to Turkey. When he failed to comply, the court ordered the seizure of four properties belonging to Dündar in Ankara, Istanbul and Muğla as well as bank accounts in his name.
Upon the seizure of his assets, Dündar tweeted: “A person’s real home is his country. We, the country’s 82 million citizens, are on the verge of losing this great home to darkness.”
Dündar has been living in Germany since he left Turkey in June 2016. He was arrested in November 2015 following the publication of a report in the Cumhuriyet daily on the shipment of arms and ammunition to Syria by Turkey’s National Intelligence Organization (MİT). The report included photos of the shipments. He was accused of spying and “divulging state secrets.”
President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan vowed Dündar would pay a “heavy price” for publishing the images. He personally filed a complaint with the public prosecutor against Dündar, demanding he serve multiple life sentences. Dündar was released from prison on February 26, 2016, when Turkey’s Constitutional Court ruled that his rights had been violated and ordered his release.
The Supreme Court of Appeals on March 9, 2016 upheld his conviction on charges of espionage, which carry a sentence of 15 to 20 years. Erdoğan had demanded his extradition to Turkey from German Chancellor Angela Merkel during a joint press conference in Berlin in September 2018. A Turkish court requested the issuance of an Interpol Red Notice for Dündar the following month. German officials said they increased security measures for Dündar after Erdoğan’s visit.
According to the Stockholm Center for Freedom’s “Jailed and Wanted Journalists in Turkey” database, 172 journalists are currently behind bars in Turkey, while 167 are wanted and are either in exile or remain at large.
According to Reporters Without Borders (RSF) Turkey is “the world’s biggest jailer of professional journalists.”