Exiled journalist Can Dündar to have assets seized unless returns to Turkey

A local Turkish court has granted the prosecutors’ demand to treat exiled journalist Can Dündar as a fugitive if he doesn’t return to Turkey within 15 days. At the end of the waiting period after the court publishes a call for Dündar, it will start seizure of his assets in the country.

In May 2015, Cumhuriyet newspaper released footage showing a 2014 inspection, in which trucks controlled by officials from Turkey's intelligence agency MİT were seen with loads of more than 80,000 rounds of ammunition of various calibres, some 1,000 mortar shells and hundreds of grenade launcher projectiles. Dündar, then editor-in-chief at the paper, had contributed to the report along with an Ankara reporter.

Following the court ruling, the journalist tweeted:

“For 40 years, I have done nothing but journalism. With the sweat of our brow, we earned enough money for two houses, one of them a summer house, registered on my and my wife’s name. There is one more house left to me by my late father, where my mother still lives alone. What the court decided to seize in four minutes is 40 years of our labour.”

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. Reporting on the raids attracted a lot of attention inside and outside of Turkey.

President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, following the report, said Dündar would pay a heavy price. Both Dündar and Cumhuriyet’s Ankara reporter Erdem Gül were accused of espionage, revealing state secrets and propaganda for the Gülen Movement, an Islamist network led by U.S.-based cleric Fethullah Gülen that Turkey blames for having orchestrated a failed coup attempt in 2016.

In 2018, 14 members of Cumhuriyet’s staff were sentenced to jail on similar charges of terrorism and Gülenist propaganda.

Can Dündar is one of the most well-known journalists with his documentaries, interviews and columns in Turkey. He is an award-winning documentary maker, whose films have been watched by tens of millions of people over the decades. He is currently one of the most wanted critical voices outside of Turkey by the Erdogan government. 

A Turkish court repeatedly blocked access to Germany-based Özgürüz, headed by Dündar, by the Radio and Television Supreme Council (RTÜK).