The Turkish president sends an unmistakable signal about his feelings on the Constitutional Court's ruling about freedom of the press.
The high court's decision- which functions as a Turkish Supreme Court- was related to two well-known journalists who were arrested in November. They were charged with publicizing top secret information about arms shipments to rebels in Northern Syria.
The journalists, independent newspaper Cumhuriyet's editor-in-chief Can Dündar and Ankara bureau chief Erdem Gül were accused of revealing state secrets "for espionage purposes” and for seeking to “violently” overthrow the Turkish government. They were also charged with aiding an “armed terrorist organization.”
A UK Guardian report noted that both Erdoğan and the head of the National Intelligence Organisation (MIT), Hakan Fidan were named as plaintiffs in the 473-page indictment. Turkish government prosecutors had demanded life terms, "penal servitude for life" for the two men.
Suffice to say, these were very serious charges indeed.
The Heavy Price of Reporting News in Turkey
The timing of the Cumhuriyet news reports could hardly have been more unwelcome, coming just 10 days before the June 7 elections.
The stakes of the elections were high. Held in all 85 electoral districts of Turkey, the elections were to decide the party composition of the 550 members to the Grand National Assembly. The ruling party, the AK, had had a majority in parliament for years, effectively allowing the president to rule by decree.
The news proved to be a major embarrassment for the administration who at the time were denying all existence of arms shipments.