Turkish journalists from of the opposition Cumhuriyet newspaper were sentenced to more than five years in prison for revealing state secrets. Ankara bureau chief Erdem Gul received a five year sentence and editor-in-chief Can Dundar was sentenced to five years and ten months. Prior to the verdict a gunman fired shots at Dundar, but he was unharmed.
Screen capture/Al Jazeera English/YouTube
ANKARA, Turkey, May 7 (UPI) -- Two prominent Turkish journalists were sentenced to at least five years in prison by a Turkish court for revealing state secrets.
Ankara bureau chief Erdem Gul and editor-in-chief Can Dundar of opposition Cumhuriyet newspaper were sentenced to five years and five years and 10 months in prison respectively.
The pair were charged for reporting about alleged government arms shipments from Turkey to Syrian rebels, but were acquitted of a charge of espionage which could have carried a life sentence.
An assailant also reportedly yelled "traitor" and fired gunshots at Dundar while he was briefing reporters outside the courthouse before the verdict.
A reporter on the scene received a slight leg injury, but Dundar was unharmed and the gunman was arrested.
Afterward Dudnar said both the verdict and the assassination attempt were intended not only to silence himself and Gul, but also to "intimidate the Turkish media and make us scared of writing."
"Today, we know that the reason for the threats we have been receiving for weeks and the bullets fired from that gun today are due to the fact that we have been shown as targets by the highest office in the state," he said in reference to President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
U.S. State Department spokesman John Kirby released a statement after the verdict saying the United States was concerned by the guilty verdicts.
"We reiterate that the United States supports freedom of expression, and we call on the Turkish authorities to support an independent and unfettered media, which is an essential element of any democratic, open society," he said.
Europe and Central Asia Director for Amnesty International John Dalhuisen also weighed in, calling the convictions a "travesty of justice."
"The decision, which punishes good journalism with five years' imprisonment, shows how the law has buckled and broken under political pressure in Turkey," he said.
Dundar and Gul are expected to appeal against the guilty verdicts.