An İstanbul court on Monday issued an arrest warrant in absentia and sought an Interpol Red Notice for exiled Turkish journalist Can Dündar, the former editor-in-chief of the critical Cumhuriyet daily, over a story he published about Turkish intelligence trucks allegedly carrying weapons to radical groups in Syria.
Dündar had been arrested and jailed for 92 days along with colleague Erdem Gül for publishing a story on Turkish intelligence trucks carrying hidden weapons bound for Syria in early 2014. They were arrested on Nov. 26, 2015 and released on Feb. 26, 2016 pending trial following a Constitutional Court decision.
Shortly after his release and an armed attack against him, Dündar quit his position as editor-in-chief of Cumhuriyet and left Turkey as scores of other journalists under pressure have done. Gül remains in the country and is free on his own recognizance while his appeal is in process.
Last March Turkey’s Supreme Court of Appeals overturned a five-year jail sentence for Dündar, saying he should instead face up to 20 years in prison on espionage charges.
The top court ruled that the lower court should have sentenced Dündar on espionage-related charges, which carry a 15 to 20-year sentence, rather than the lesser charge of disclosing confidential information. The court said Gül should be acquitted due to a lack of evidence.
Following the top court’s decision, Dündar’s dossier was sent to the İstanbul 14th High Criminal Court, which subsequently issued an arrest warrant in absentia for Dündar and also asked that Turkey’s Justice Ministry request a Red Notice from Interpol for Dündar and his extradition from Belgium.
Dündar has been living in Germany since June 2016.
Speaking to Deutsche Welle following the İstanbul court’s decision on Monday, Dündar said the court’s move is aimed at intimidating him, while he called on Interpol to examine Red Notice requests from Turkey with care because they are politically motivated.
The journalist also said he does not know why the Turkish court is seeking his extradition from Belgium and not Germany.
“I went to Belgium last week. Maybe they saw me there, I don’t know. You just get an idea about the situation of the Turkish judiciary from this,” said the journalist.