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04.03.2016 19:34 News >> President Erdoğan: Prosecutors May Object To Dündar And Gül's Release

President Erdoğan: Prosecutors May Object To Dündar And Gül's Release

President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said on Thursday that the legal process for Cumhuriyet editors Can Dündar and Erdem Gül, who were released on Feb.

President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said on Thursday that the legal process for Cumhuriyet editors Can Dündar and Erdem Gül, who were released on Feb. 26 after the Constitutional Court ruled that their rights were violated during their pre-trial detention, has not been completed yet and prosecutors may still object to the decision by the court for their release.
Speaking with journalists at the Turkish Embassy in the Nigerian capital of Abuja on Thursday during his West Africa tour, Erdoğan underlined that he did not violate the Constitution when he said he does not obey or respect the decision by the Constitutional Court over the imprisonment of Dündar and Cumhuriyet's Ankara representative Erdem Gül. “It was the Constitutional Court which violated the Constitution by opening the way for the release of Dündar and Gül,” he added.
“However, it doesn't mean that the [legal] process is over. The prosecutor may object the decision and an upper court may start a new process [for their detention again]. Then our duty is to observe the [new] legal process,” Erdoğan said.
Dündar and Gül were freed in the early hours of Feb. 26 after 92 days in jail following the Constitutional Court's ruling which stated “the journalists' right to freedom and security, the right to express their thoughts and freedom of the press under Articles 19, 26 and 28 of the Constitution, respectively, were violated.”
The two journalists were arrested in November last year on charges of espionage and aiding a terrorist organization, after the publication of video footage on the Cumhuriyet website in June 2015 purporting to show National Intelligence Organization (MİT) trucks helping to send weapons to radical groups in Syria when they were intercepted in 2014 by gendarmerie forces. The arrest drew international condemnation and heightened existing concerns about media freedom in Turkey.
"The Constitutional Court may have reached such a verdict. I would only remain silent. I am not in a position to accept it," Erdoğan told reporters before departing for a visit to African countries on Sunday. "I do not obey it nor do I respect it," he added.
He also said the İstanbul 14th High Criminal Court, which is overseeing the two journalists' trial and ruled for their release in line with the decision of the Constitutional Court, could have resisted the top court's ruling and refused to free them.
"The media cannot have unlimited freedom. These reports are an attack on the current president of this country," Erdoğan said on Sunday. "This has nothing to do with freedom of expression at all. This is an espionage case."

“Turkey is ready to pay compensation for re-arrest of two journalists if appealed in ECTHR”

During his talk with the journalists in Nigeria, Erdoğan also added that the Constitutional Court has nothing to do with the trial of the two journalists. He further noted that Turkey is ready to pay compensations if an upper court's decision, detaining the two journalists again, is appealed to the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR). “The state can object to the ECtHR if it gives a decision supporting the Constitutional Court or it can pay the compensation,” he said.
According to Erdoğan, Dündar and Gül's trial is an espionage case in which the suspects publicized Turkey's help towards Bayırbucak Turkmens in Syria. Erdoğan also said Cumhuriyet's reporting about the MİT trucks cannot be considered to be within the scope of freedom of media or expression as it revealed state intelligence secrets and made Turkey seem to be a country that supports the terrorist Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).
“Those prosecutors, gendarmes who stopped the MİT trucks [in Adana and Hatay in 2014], are now in jail. Therefore, the precaution [the detention of journalists] is not a violation of freedom of press and expression. Members of press don't have the right to do anything they wish,” Erdoğan said.
Four former prosecutors and seven military staff, including high-ranking officers, were imprisoned after a court ordered their arrest in May 2015 due to their role in the search of trucks allegedly carrying weapons to opposition groups in Syria, a move which came shortly after government figures, including Erdoğan, accused the officials of "treason."

“Constitutional Court's ruling in favor of prep schools also weren't applied”

Underlining that members of the Constitutional Court, including its head Zühtü Aslan, violated the Constitution by being involved in the Cumhuriyet editors' release, Erdoğan said the top court took a similar decision in July 2015 that annulled legislation closing dershanes or university exam preparation schools and added that “that decision wasn't applied [by the government].”
A bill ordering the closure of dershanes proposed by the Justice and Development Party (AK Party) was passed in Parliament on March 7, 2014, and signed into law by then-President Abdullah Gül on March 12, 2014.
Soon after the Constitutional Court's decision to annul the controversial dershane law, the Education Ministry sent out a circular in an attempt to bypass the top court's ruling. On Aug. 7, 2015 Education Minister Nabi Avcı explained that current prep schools can continue to operate as private educational courses if they meet the requirements stipulated by the regulation and that those schools must obtain a new license from the ministry in order to operate.
Many critics have regarded the new law as a means to impose a ban on educational institutions that are not pro-government.
In September 2015, the Council of State annulled the circular from the Education Ministry; however, large numbers of prep schools were closed in government-initiated operations across Turkey.
The law was widely seen as an element of the AK Party's witch hunt against the Gülen movement, also known as the Hizmet movement, a civil society initiative inspired by Turkish Islamic scholar Fethullah Gülen that promotes education and interfaith dialogue. Gülen became the target of the AK Party following corruption investigations that were made public in December 2013 which implicated senior members of government and people close to Erdoğan. Erdoğan accused the movement of carrying out a plot to overthrow his government, a claim the movement has repeatedly denied.

[Cihan/Today's Zaman]



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