Turkish court charges four journalists for Ankara bomb report

ANKARA - A Turkish court has charged four journalists for publishing leaked official documents that showed police were aware an Islamic State bomber had entered the country from Syria before he and accomplices carried out a suicide attack that killed 109 people.

Cem Gurbetoğlu and Tamer Arda Erşin, who work at the left-wing Evrensel newspaper, face up to three years in jail on charges of publishing a leaked document belonging to anti-terror police.

Evrensel editor Fatih Polat and then-editor of the secularist Cumhuriyet newspaper, Can Dündar, were also charged with “abetting a crime” for publishing the report.

“If there is information that security forces there did not carry out their duties despite having obtained intelligence, then reporting this is the duty of a journalist,” Polat said in response to the charges.

The document, entitled “Possible Attack” and dated Oct. 10, 2015, named three ISIS-linked radicals including Yunus Emre Alagöz, warning that they had recently entered Turkey from Syria with the intention of committing “sensational acts”.

On the same day, Alagöz, and another suicide bomber whose identity has never been determined, killed 109 civilians at a peace march in the capital Ankara, the deadliest bomb attack in Turkey’s modern history.

In the wake of the bombing, then-Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu told NTV that “We have a list of the suicide bombers who are in Turkey, but we cannot arrest them unless they carry out an attack.”

Instead, he suggested, protesters should either be prevented from holding large meetings or security forces should take better precautions.

The case will be heard at an Ankara court on Jan. 15, 2018.