March 9, 2018 / 3:15 PM / 2 months ago

Turkey's highest court rules journalist Dundar should get stiffer sentence

ANKARA, March 9 (Reuters) - Turkey’s highest court overruled a five-year jail sentence against prominent journalist Can Dundar on Friday, saying he should face up to 20 years in prison on espionage charges, the state-run Anadolu agency said.

Dundar and his colleague from the Cumhuriyet newspaper, Erdem Gul, had each been sentenced in May 2016 to five years in prison for publishing a video purporting show Turkey’s intelligence agency trucking weapons into Syria.

On Friday the Supreme Court ruled the lower court should have sentenced Dundar on espionage-related charges, which carry a 15-20 year sentence, rather than the lesser charge of disclosing confidential information, Anadolu said. It said Gul should be acquitted due to lack of evidence.

Both men were previously released pending their appeal process. Dundar has since left Turkey and is now being tried in absentia. Gul remains in the country and free while his appeal is in process.

Dundar has become something of a global symbol of what President Tayyip Erdogan’s critics say is a sweeping crackdown on press freedom in Turkey. More than 150,000 people have been sacked or suspended in the purge that followed a 2016 failed coup and more than 50,000 people have been detained.

The government says its measures are necessary given the security threats it faces. (Reporting by Ece Toksabay; Editing by David Dolan)

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