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Dec 05 2018

Turkey issues arrest warrant for Can Dündar as Gezi protests investigation expands

The İstanbul Chief Public Prosecutor’s office issued an arrest warrant for dissident journalist Can Dündar on Wednesday as part of an investigation into the 2013 Gezi Park protests, the biggest anti-government demonstrations since President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s Justice and Development Party (AKP) came to power in 2002, the moderate conservative Karar newspaper reported.

Dündar, who lives in exile in Germany, was sentenced to five years and ten months in prison earlier this year for publishing secret state documents revealing alleged weapons shipment to Syria and still faces charges of helping an armed organisation.

The 2013 Gezi protests, which started as a small-scale peaceful sit-in to demonstrate against the proposed destruction of a small Istanbul park, quickly spread across the country, with many young people joining in to voice their discontent with Erdoğan’s Islamist government. Twenty-two people were killed and more than 8,000 injured as police used tear-gas, water cannon, baton charges and occasionally live ammunition to put down the protests.

Turkish prosecutors opened cases against 120 people in the past week and are investigating 600 more for their part in the protests. 

The İstanbul Chief Public Prosecutor’s office on Wednesday summoned Akif Burak Atlar of the Taksim Solidarity group, an initiative that was founded mainly by architects and city planners to oppose the government’s plans to build a shopping mall modelled on the Ottoman military barracks that had previously stood on the site of Gezi Park.

Turkish police left a notice for sociologist Veli Saçılık, who was fired by a state of emergency decree in November 2017, as part of a government crackdown against academics, civil servants and teachers accused of membership of a terrorist organisation and conducting propaganda on its behalf. 

Investigations into the demonstrations gained momentum last month when 13 people, including academics and civil society activists were detained in Istanbul for what prosecutors said their role in organising the protests.