Turkish reporters facing life in prison back in court


By Dominique Soguel, AP

ISTANBUL–The closed-door trial of two Turkish journalists accused of espionage and aiding a terrorist organization resumed Friday in a case that has heightened concerns over press freedoms in Turkey.

Cumhuriyet newspaper’s chief editor Can Dundar and Ankara representative Erdem Gul face life imprisonment if found guilty of revealing state secrets over their report on alleged government arms-smuggling to Syrian rebels.

They published images that reportedly date back to January 2014, when local authorities searched Syria-bound trucks, leading to a standoff with Turkish intelligence officials. Cumhuriyet said the images proved Turkey was smuggling arms to Islamist rebels.

The pair have been accused of aiding the moderate Islamic movement led by U.S.-based cleric Fethullah Gulen, a foe of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

The government says the reports are part of a conspiracy to bring it down.

Human rights group insist the two have done nothing but their job by covering an issue of public interest and say the charges should be dropped.

The case is considered a key test of press freedom in the country, which has witnessed a growing crackdown on independent and opposition media over the past few years.