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Turkish journalist survives assassination attempt before receiving 5 year sentence for 'revealing state secrets'

The attacker was subdued and quickly detained by police outside the courthouse

Samuel Osborne
Friday 06 May 2016 18:22 BST
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Can Dundar, editor-in-chief of opposition newspaper Cumhuriyet, escaped the attack unhurt, before being sentenced to five years and 10 months for 'revealing state secrets'
Can Dundar, editor-in-chief of opposition newspaper Cumhuriyet, escaped the attack unhurt, before being sentenced to five years and 10 months for 'revealing state secrets' (EPA/SEDAT SUNA)

A gunman shouted "traitor" before firing two shots at a prominent Turkish journalist outside a courthouse in Istanbul, where he is on trial accused of revealing state secrets.

Can Dundar, editor-in-chief of opposition newspaper Cumhuriyet, escaped the attack unhurt, but another journalist was slightly injured in the leg.

Mr Dundar was heading towards a cafe with his wife after speaking to journalists who were covering his trial when the attack occurred.

The attacker was subdued and quickly detained by police outside the courthouse.

Video footage shows plain-clothed police forcing the man to lift his jacket to check he had no other weapons.

He was then ordered to lie face-down on the ground.

A handout picture provided by Cumhuriyet newspaper shows Dilek Dundar (L), wife of Can Dundar, and opposition party CHP lawmaker Muharrem Erkek try to capture Murat Sahin (R) he attempted to attack Can Dundar in front of the Courthouse in Istanbul, Turkey, 6 May, 2016 (EPA)

The gunman has been identified as Murat Sahin, 40, by Dogan news agency.

Last year, the Cumhuriyet newspaper published purported images of Turkish trucks carrying ammunition to Syrian militants.

The paper said the images proved Turkey was smuggling arms to rebels - a claim the government rejects.

A handout picture provided by Cumhuriyet newspaper shows a policeman point his gun at Murat Sahin after he attempted to attack Can Dundar in front of the Courthouse in Istanbul, Turkey, 6 May, 2016 (EPA)

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan filed a criminal complaint, and now the preisdent and the national intelligence agency MIT are plaintiffs in the case, which is widely seen as a test for press freedom in Turkey.

Mr Dundar and Cumhuriyet's Ankara representative, Erdem Gul, have now been sentenced to at least five years in prison for revealing state secrets.

They were acquitted of some charges, including trying to topple the government. The court separated charges of links to terrorist organisations to await a verdict in a separate trial.

"I don't know who the attacker is but I know who encouraged him and made me a target," Mr Dundar said, in a comment which appeared to be aimed at the Turkish president and others who have called for the journalists to be punished for the arms smuggling reports.

Kemal Kilicdaroglu, the leader of the main opposition party who has supported the journalists, echoed his words.

"Those who turn journalists into targets by using hate speech are responsible for the attack on Can Dundar," he said.

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