Cumhuriyet journalist Dündar escapes armed attack in Istanbul’s courthouse
AFP photoCumhuriyet Editor-in-Chief Can Dündar has escaped unharmed from an armed attack in front of the Istanbul Çağlayan courthouse on May 6 following the fourth hearing of a case due to stories published about Turkish intelligence trucks bound for Syria with hidden weapons in early 2014.
The assailant, identified as Murat Şahin, who was born in 1976 and registered in the Central Anatolian province of Sivas, approached Dündar as he was speaking to reporters during the break. He fired two shots at Dündar’s legs, saying, “You are a traitor.” The assailant was detained while Dündar was uninjured.
However, Yağız Şenkal, a reporter for the private broadcaster NTV, was wounded in the leg.
Police immediately intervened as Şahin was seen in footage surrendering calmly.
“The court had given a break for the verdict. This attack happened while we went out to wait for the verdict. I do not know who he is. I only saw he pointed his gun at me. We know who painted us as a target. I hope they take lessons,” Dündar said.
Dündar returned to the courthouse to hear the verdict after the attack.
It was revealed that Şahin had a criminal record for previously conducting such armed attacks.
Meanwhile, main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu said those who target journalists were responsible.“ Those who target journalists doing their jobs with hate speech are the ones responsible for the attack against Can Dündar,” Kılıçdaroğlu said in a tweet, extending his best wishes.
Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) also strongly condemned the attack, calling it “unacceptable.”
“As long as there is a president in a country who declares journalists doing their jobs traitor and says “[they] would pay a heavy price. I won't let go of this,” those kind of attacks become normal,” a statement read.
Dündar and the daily’s Ankara bureau chief, Erdem Gül, were on trial for “leaking state secrets” due to stories published about Turkish intelligence trucks bound for Syria with hidden weapons in early 2014. They were arrested on Nov. 26, 2015, and released on Feb. 26 following a Constitutional Court decision.
Speaking before the trial began on May 6, Dündar said he expected to be acquitted of the charges.
“We’ve come a long way in this case. I think this is the end. They’ve tried everything since the beginning,” Dündar told reporters in front of Istanbul’s Çağlayan courthouse on May 6, while representatives from opposition parties and workers’ unions also attended the hearing in support of the journalists.
“Journalism is on trial here,” Dündar added.
The prosecutor in the case, who earlier dropped espionage charges, demanded up to 31 years and six months in prison for Dündar and up to 10 years for Gül.
The prosecutor has demanded up to 31 years and six months in prison for Dündar and up to 10 years for Gül, Doğan News Agency reported.
The hearing was closed to the public.
An Istanbul court recently rejected a prosecutor’s demand to merge Dündar and Gül’s case with another in which prosecutors and soldiers are being tried for searching the trucks belonging to the Turkish intelligence agency that are at the heart of the larger controversy.
The rejection came as Dündar and Gül appeared in court for the third hearing of the case last month.