Erdogan blasts foreign diplomats for attending journalists' trial

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has condemned foreign envoys who observed the trial of two Turkish journalists whose charges include espionage and supporting a terrorist organization.

"Who are you? What business do you have there?" Erdogan was quoted as saying by the state-run Anadolu news agency on Saturday. "This is not your country, (this is) Turkey."

Diplomats only have free movement within their missions, the president added.

The envoys, including the British consul-general, showed up at the courthouse in Istanbul on Friday, the opening day of proceedings against Can Dundar and Erdem Gul, the editor-in-chief and Ankara correspondent of the government-critical Cumhuriyet newspaper.

Dundar and Gul are on trial for publishing a report and a video in May about alleged arms shipments from Turkey to Syrian rebels that included extremist groups. They could face life in prison if found guilty.

Erdogan is now a co-plaintiff in the case.

The court ruled that the trial would continue next week but would be held behind closed doors so that the public would not be allowed to watch the proceedings. The move drew sharp criticism from human rights groups, who were alarmed by the prospect of a secret tribunal.

A number of press freedom groups and human rights organizations have called for the case against Dundar and Gul to be dropped, while European Union officials have described the trial as a test for press freedom in Turkey.

The two journalists have spent three months in pre-trial detention but were recently released pending the outcome of the legal proceedings.

At least 13 journalists remain behind bars in Turkey, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists and the European Federation of Journalists. Turkey ranks 149th out of 180 countries on the Reporters Without Borders Press Freedom Index.

Last update: Sat, 26/03/2016 - 15:13
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