New York, January 3, 2023 – Turkish authorities should ensure that journalists are not included on the country’s lists of wanted terrorists, and should stop harassing members of the press, the Committee to Protect Journalists said Tuesday.
On December 30, exiled Turkish journalist Can Dündar revealed that he had been added to the so-called terrorist “gray list,” a database published by the Turkish Interior Ministry that identifies alleged terrorists and offers rewards for their capture, according to news reports.
Dündar’s name and photograph appear on the gray list’s webpage, which offers a reward of 500,000 lira (US$26,697) to anyone who can aid in his arrest. Dündar received CPJ’s 2016 International Press Freedom Award in recognition of his work amid government repression.
CPJ has identified at least 14 other members of the press included on the Interior Ministry’s gray list.
“Turkish authorities should refrain from treating exiled journalists like terrorists, and should not include them on wanted lists, which are blatant attempts to intimidate journalists from doing their jobs,” said CPJ Europe and Central Asia Program Coordinator Gulnoza Said. “Authorities should immediately remove the names of all journalists on such lists, and stop treating members of the press like criminals.”
The gray list webpage also includes 14 other Turkish journalists living in exile: Bülent Keneş, Abdullah Bozkurt, Ahmet Dönmez, Cevheri Güven, Tarık Toros, Adem Yavuz Arslan, Said Sefa, Arzu Yıldız, Levent Kenez, Hasan Cücük, Sevgi Akarçeşme, Erhan Başyurt, Bülent Korucu, and Hamit Bilici.
The webpage says those journalists are wanted for their alleged ties to the exiled preacher Fethullah Gülen, whom the Turkish government accuses of maintaining a terrorist organization and “parallel state structure,” and of masterminding a July 15, 2016, failed military coup.
Dündar, who reported on alleged weapon smuggling from Turkey to Syria in 2014, was convicted of aiding Gülen’s organization in 2020. If returned to Turkey, he faces nearly 30 years in prison.
CPJ emailed the Interior Ministry of Turkey for comment but did not immediately receive any reply.