21 October 2016 – The release today pending trial by a Turkish court of Murat Şahin, who had assaulted Cumhuriyet Daily’s then editor-in-chief and PEN member, Can Dündar, is a disturbing sign that the Turkish authorities are not willing to protect journalists and those who criticize the government, PEN International said today.
Can Dündar , commenting on the ruling on Twitter noted, “It has come to this: judicial approval of an armed assault on the press.”
The attack outside an Istanbul courthouse on 6 May 2016 occurred during the intermission of Dündar’s ongoing trial regarding coverage of Turkish Intelligence (MIT) arms shipments to Islamist rebels into Syria. Dündar was not harmed in the attack , though NTV reporter Yağız Şenkal was wounded in the leg.
Following the attack, Murat Şahin was arrested and eventually charged wıth “opposing the law on the use of armed weapons” and “for attempted injury”. An earlier court decision that he should be tried for attempted murder was over-ruled by a higher court ruling.
The Judge released Şahin after he spent six months in detentıon, due to the nature of the charges brought against him and the time he has spent under arrest. The trıal ıs scheduled to continue on 15 December 2016.