An Istanbul court has convicted veteran Turkish journalist Can Dündar to 27 years and 6 months in prison over terror and espionage charges on Wednesday, state-run Anadolu agency reported.
Dündar, who has been living in Germany since 2016, was facing charges over opposition daily Cumhuriyet’s coverage of Turkish intelligence service allegedly shipping weapons to Syrian jihadist groups, known as the MİT trucks incident, during his time as the newspaper’s editor-in-chief.
A previous sentence over the same charges had been overturned by Turkey’s Court of Cassation, leading to the current case against the journalist.
Dündar’s lawyers had announced on Tuesday that they would not be attending Wednesday’s hearings, saying the proceedings were “just for show.” The ruling was issued in absentia.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in 2015 had said Dündar would “pay a heavy price,” and that he wouldn’t “let him go like that,” during a televised interview.
The footage released by Cumhuriyet newspaper showed trucks controlled by MİT officials transporting more than 80,000 rounds of ammunition of various calibres, some 1,000 mortar shells and hundreds of grenade launcher projectiles.
Police and gendarmerie units searched four trucks in the southern province of Adana in several raids, one in November 2013 and three others in January 2014, on the orders of prosecutors acting on tip-offs that they had been carrying weapons. While the first truck was seized, the rest were allowed to continue their journey.
Dündar was also convicted of aiding FETÖ, the name Turkey uses for the followers of U.S.-based Muslim cleric Fethullah Gülen, who it accuses of having masterminded the failed coup attempt of July 15, 2016. The group has been designated a terrorist organisation by Ankara.