European Union warns Turkey over journalist Can Dundar jail sentence

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The European Union on Friday warned Turkey that a heavy jail sentence imposed on journalist Can Dundar harmed both human rights in the country and Ankara’s relations with Brussels.

A Turkish court on Wednesday sentenced the exiled former editor-in-chief of the respected Cumhuriyet daily to more than 27 years in jail on espionage and terror charges.

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Can Dundar fled to Germany in 2016 after a failed coup the Turkish government blames on US-based Muslim preacher Fethullah Gulen.

“The European Union has repeatedly conveyed its serious concerns about continued negative developments as regards the rule of law, fundamental rights and the judiciary in Turkey,” a statement issued by the EU’s external affairs arm said.

“The decision of a Turkish Court to sentence journalist Can Dundar for what is his fundamental right to freedom of expression and (businessman) Osman Kavala’s continuous pre-trial detention go, regrettably, in the opposite direction,” it said.

“As a candidate (member) country and long-standing member of the Council of Europe, Turkey urgently needs to make concrete and sustained progress in the respect of fundamental rights, which are a cornerstone of EU-Turkey relations,” it added.

Relations between the EU and Turkey have been badly strained over a host of issues in recent years and Brussels was notably critical of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s harsh post-coup crackdown.

There are regular exchanges, especially over human rights, which Ankara says reflect EU double-standards and amount to interference in its internal affairs.

Turkey’s EU membership application meanwhile has stalled amid the resulting acrimony.

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