Turkish journalist Dündar: Interpol should not become Erdoğan’s police force

Former Cumhuriyet daily Editor-in-Chief Can Dündar

Exiled Turkish journalist Can Dündar, who has been wanted by the Turkish regime under the rule of autocratic President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, said that “Interpol should not become the police force of the Turkish government.”

It was reported that Can Dündar, the former editor-in-chief of the Cumhuriyet daily, will not go to the press freedom panel in the Netherlands due to concern that he would be arrested with a red bulletin of the International Police Organization (Interpol). But Can Dündar said “I will go to Holland, I will not interrupt my schedule.”

Journalist Dündar, who was demanded by a Turkish prosecutor to be sentenced to life imprisonment because of a report published in Cumhuriyet daily regarding MİT Trucks (heavy-weapon-loaded trucks belonging to National Intelligence Organisation of Turkey) were caught on the way to Syria, was invited to a panel in Amsterdam, the Netherlands on the state of freedom of the press in Turkey on November 1, 2017.  However, an authorized person from De Balie Cultural Center, that has been organizing the panel, announced that the visit was canceled due to security concerns.

Speaking to BBC Turkish, Dündar said that “Interpol should not become the police force of the Turkish government,” and added that “The Interpol issue was on the agenda when they called from the Cultural Center, I told them to wait for a while, but later I said to them I would not interrupt my schedule. Interpol should not become a police force of the Turkish government in Europe and in the world. I think that it is certainly necessary to distinguish and differentiate the criminals of thought from the actual criminals. It’s about Europe, it’s something Europe needs to talk about.”

Meanwhile, Yoeri Albrecht, Director of De Balie Cultural Center, stated that it was not safe for Dündar to leave from his secret address in Germany on these conditions and did not know whether Interpol would respond to the call of the Turkish authorities.

During the period when Dündar was the editorin chief, Cumhuriyet daily published a report containing the allegations that weapons and ammunition were sent to the radical terror organizations in Syria by the National Intelligence Service (MİT). The prosecution wanted Dündar to be sentenced to life imprisonment on grounds of “disclosing state secrets, espionage and membership of a terrorist organization.”

Dündar, who survived without getting wounded by the armed attack after a court hearing, left Turkey and settled in Germany in 2016.

Turkey is the biggest jailer of journalists in the world. The most recent figures documented by the Stockholm Centre for Freedom (SCF) has showed that 259 journalists and media workers are now in jails as of October 17, 2017, most in pre-trial detention languishing in notorious Turkish prisons without even a conviction. Of those in Turkish prisons, 235 are arrested pending trial, only 24 journalists remain convicted and serving time in Turkish prisons. An outstanding detention warrants remain for 133 journalists who live 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 more than 180 media outlets after the controversial coup attempt.

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