Now is the worst time to be a journalist in Turkey

Borzou Daragahi reports: Can Dundar knew he was a marked man.

It was shortly before Turkish authorities summoned the editor-in-chief of Cumhuriyet, one of Turkey’s largest newspapers, and one of his most senior editors, to court and locked up in a jail cell on Thursday. The energetic 52-year-old intellectual, with a full head of messy grey hair, lounged in his office in central Istanbul and rifled through the nation’s newspapers, pointing out all those taken over by the government in recent years. In crisp English, the journalist — whose first name is pronounced “jan” — explained why he believed the government under the country’s increasingly powerful president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, had continued to crack down on the press even after its decisive election victory earlier this month.

“He views every kind of criticism as a threat or as an insult,” Dundar told BuzzFeed News in an exclusive interview. “He hates criticism. Politically, his background is as an Islamist guy. He’s much more used to having people obeying without criticism. This is their tradition. Criticism is almost forbidden. It’s considered shameful.”

Dundar was jailed on Thursday and faces a possible sentence of life in prison on espionage and terrorism charges for publishing a report in May that included photos and videos alleging Turkish intelligence officials were smuggling weapons to Syrian rebel fighters described as jihadis in January 2014. The report, yet to be refuted or denied, shone an uncomfortable spotlight on allegations that Turkey has supported, or at least turned a blind eye, to the growth of extremist groups in Syria, including ISIS. [Continue reading…]

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