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The widely-condemned trial of two opposition journalists accused of spying will be held in secret in a case seen as a major test of press freedom and rule of law under Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Cumhuriyet newspaper editor-in-chief Can Dundar...

Turkish journalists accused of spying will face secret trial in 'test case of press freedom'

The widely-condemned trial of two opposition journalists accused of spying will be held in secret in a case seen as a major test of press freedom and rule of law under Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Cumhuriyet newspaper editor-in-chief Can Dundar...

Turkish journalists accused of spying will face secret trial in 'test case of press freedom'

The widely-condemned trial of two opposition journalists accused of spying will be held in secret in a case seen as a major test of press freedom and rule of law under Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Cumhuriyet newspaper editor-in-chief Can Dundar and Ankara bureau chief Erdem Gul face life imprisonment after publishing a front-page story claiming the state was delivering weapons to Islamist rebels in Syria.

The two men are accused of threatening state security and espionage after publishing a video last May that allegedly showed Turkish intelligence agency taking arms to Syrian rebel groups in 2014. The trucks had been stopped by gendarmerie and police officers en route to the Syrian border.

• Where did it all go wrong for Turkey?

The case has been criticised internationally as another attack on press freedom in Turkey, coming just weeks after police stormed the headquarters of the country's bestselling daily newspaper, Zaman, using tear gas and water cannon.

Riot police cut off the gate to enter the headquarters of Zaman newspaper in Istanbul

An Istanbul court ruled on Friday that their trial would be held behind closed doors and adjourned the trial to April 1. During the hearing, the court accept Mr Erdogan as a complainant who has previously vowed that Dundar will "pay a heavy price".

The prosecutor argued that the trial should be held in secret because some of the evidence included state secrets but lawyers for Gul and Dandar argued that parts of the trial, including such evidence, could be read in closed session and the rest remaining open.

The trial had to be adjourned to April 1 after several opposition MPs refused to leave, two politicians told Reuters news agency.

Mr Erdogan has admitted the trucks belonged to MIT intelligence agency but said they were carried humanitarian aid for Turkmens in Syria fighting against Bashar al-Assad and Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant.

Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan

Journalists and diplomats from several countries attended the hearing including Leigh Turner, the British Consul-General in Istanbul who shared images from outside court and messages of support for the journalists on Twitter.

The EU has condemned the case against the pair and on Friday, EU commissioner Johannes Hahn said the trial was "a test case for press freedom and rule of law in Turkey".

"Responsible, independent journalism is not a crime, but a pillar of democracy. Candidate countries have to safeguard freedom of expression," he said on Twitter.

Responsible,#independent #journalism is not a crime, but a pillar of democracy Candidate countries have 2 safeguard #freedomofexpression 2/2

— Johannes Hahn (@JHahnEU) March 25, 2016

Our editors found this article on this site using Google and regenerated it for our readers.

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