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Turkish journalists appear in court for controversial trial

Saturday, March 26, 2016 - 01:21

A trial begins for two prominent Turkish journalists facing life in prison on charges of espionage after they published a video purporting to show the state intelligence agency helping send weapons to Syria. Rough Cut - Subtitled (no reporter narration).

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ROUGH CUT - SUBTITLED (NO REPORTER NARRATION) A trial began on Friday (March 25) for two prominent Turkish journalists facing life in prison on charges of espionage and terrorism. Can Dundar, 54, editor-in-chief for Cumhuriyet and Erdem Gul, 49, Cumhuriyet's Ankara bureau chief, stand accused of trying to topple the government after the publication last May of a video purporting to show Turkey's state intelligence agency helping to truck weapons to Syria in 2014. They were met by supporters and colleagues upon their arrival at Istanbul courthouse. "We know that we are right. We stand by our story. We believe that the real culprits should stand on trial. We will go to the court to ask for our acquittal and to say that people cannot be deprived of their right to be informed. Thank you for coming here," Dundar told the crowd. The two journalists spent 92 days in jail, almost half of it in solitary confinement, before the constitutional court ruled last month that pre-trial detention was unfounded because the charges stemmed from their journalism. Both were subsequently released pending trial, although President Tayyip Erdogan said he did not respect the ruling. Gul said the pair planned to defend the right to practice journalism in court. "Today, in a country where tensions are still rising over basic (human) rights, we will tell the court that journalism is not a crime. We will explain this for you, for me and for all of us. This is a must. The only words I can say is we didn't commit a crime. We will continue to do journalism," he told his colleagues before entering the courthouse. Erdogan has acknowledged that the trucks, which were stopped by gendarmerie and police officers en route to the Syrian border, belonged to the MIT intelligence agency and said they were carrying aid to Turkmens in Syria. Turkmen fighters are battling both President Bashar al-Assad's forces and Islamic State. Erdogan has said prosecutors had no authority to order the trucks be searched and that they acted as part of a plot to discredit the government, allegations the prosecutors denied. He has cast the newspaper's coverage as part of an attempt to undermine Turkey's global standing and has vowed Dundar would "pay a heavy price". The case has drawn international condemnation.

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Turkish journalists appear in court for controversial trial

Saturday, March 26, 2016 - 01:21