The government in Ankara isn't mincing its words about the media. Only weeks ago, two respected journalists were acquitted of charges accusing them of "espionage" and working against Turkey by leaking state secrets to third parties. Neither the journalists nor the public, however, were under any illusions that this would be the end of the case.
Erdogan got involved in this case right from the beginning. He said that Dundar and Gul would pay a price for their reporting. And this is important because it shows there was political interference with the judiciary. It tells us that in Turkey, the constitutional separation of powers that preserves the independence of the judiciary is no longer working.
State prosecutors brought the allegations back to a lower court and in the latest verdict, delivered on May 6, Can Dundar, the editor of Cumhuriyet and Erdem Gul, the newspaper's Ankara bureau chief, were sentenced to five years in prison for a story alleging that the Turkish secret service was smuggling arms to rebel fighters in Syria.
With Turkey's president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, clearly at the helm of the sentencing, after having made public threats to the journalists, the question arises - how can a lower constitutional court be allowed to make such drastic decisions affecting the livelihood and constitutional rights of others?
Journalists and news outlets within Turkey are more frequently fighting and losing battles in the courts. And it is not just inside the country. Media personalities in Germany are facing lawsuits directly from President Erdogan's office, as the European Union seemingly takes a step back in addressing the outrage from journalists and the public alike.
Talking us through the story are: Andrew Finkel, journalist; Alper Kaliber, associate professor of international relations at Istanbul Kemerburgaz University; Kadri Gursel, a reporter at Cumhuriyet; and Halime Kokce, a reporter at the Star newspaper.
Source: Al Jazeera