Award-winning editor’s wife banned from leaving Turkey, passport confiscated

New York, September 3, 2016–Turkish authorities should cease preventing Dilek Dündar, wife of exiled Turkish journalist Can Dündar, from leaving the country, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today. Can Dündar told CPJ that security officers at Istanbul’s Ataturk Airport this morning confiscated his wife’s passport and prevented her from boarding a plane to Europe, where she was to visit him.

The editor, a 2016 recipient of CPJ’s International Press Freedom Award, said the officers did not explain their actions, and that to his knowledge Dilek Dündar has not been charged with a crime. “The government has taken my wife hostage,” Can Dündar told CPJ. “This is an example of Turkey’s authoritarian rule―in our new ‘judicial’ order, if one is put on trial, the whole family is on trial.”

“We call on Turkey to return Dilek Dündar’s passport and to allow her to travel freely,” CPJ Europe and Central Asia Program Coordinator Nina Ognianova said. “Today’s actions against Dilek Dündar are clear retaliation for her husband’s journalistic work. Collectively punishing the Dündar family makes Turkish authorities appear petty, vindictive, and lawless.”

In an August 15 column for Cumhuriyet, Can Dündar announced that he was resigning as the newspaper’s editor and that he would not return to Turkey until the government lifted the state emergency declared after a July 15 failed military coup. Dündar argued that the government was exploiting the failed coup attempt to eliminate its opponents and redesign the judiciary for its own purposes. In May, an Istanbul criminal court sentenced him to seven years in prison, reduced to five years and 10 months, on charges of revealing state secrets that could harm the security of the state in connection with a 2015 report alleging the government was sending arms to Islamist groups in Syria.