“Well, I mean, we're obviously very troubled by the reports. You're talking about Cumhuriyet Editor-in-Chief Can Dündar and Ankara bureau chief Erdem Gul, as you said, seeking life imprisonment. We said before the extraordinarily harsh criminal charges, pretrial arrest and now the prosecution's call for life sentences raises serious concerns about Turkey's commitment to fundamental principles of freedom of expression, of democracy, of due process and judicial independence,” State Department spokesperson Mark Toner said, speaking at a press meeting on Jan. 27.
Toner also urged Turkish authorities to ensure free speech in line with the Turkish constitution, adding that the U.S. would not shy away from raising issues on Turkish democracy and having discussions with the country, which is a NATO ally and partner.
The indictment, which was completed within an investigation launched into the story published in Cumhuriyet on May 29, 2015, carries a penalty of life in prison, penal servitude for life and 30 years in prison for Dündar and Gül each.
Dündar and Gül were arrested on terrorism charges on Nov. 26, 2015, over a story on trucks owned by the National Intelligence Agency (MİT), Turkey's state intelligence agency, which were stopped and searched in southern Turkey in early 2014 while allegedly carrying weapons to opposition forces fighting against the Syrian regime.