Turkey acquits top journalist in ‘espionage’ case

Erdem Gul, the Ankara bureau chief of the opposition Cumhuriyet daily, was acquitted by the Istanbul criminal court, the state-run Anadolu news agency said. (AFP)
Updated 16 July 2018
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Turkey acquits top journalist in ‘espionage’ case

ISTANBUL: An Istanbul court on Monday acquitted one of Turkey’s most prominent political journalists in a long-running case on espionage charges dating back to an arms interception on the Syrian border in 2014.
Erdem Gul, the Ankara bureau chief of the opposition Cumhuriyet daily, was acquitted by the Istanbul criminal court, the state-run Anadolu news agency said.
Gul had in May 2016 been sentenced to five years in jail and his then editor-in-chief Can Dundar to five years and 10 months for revealing state secrets over their front-page story which alleged Turkish secret services sought to deliver arms to Syria rebels.
Despite spending time in pre-trial detention, neither was sent to jail immediately and both walked free pending appeal.
But in a hugely complex process, Turkey’s top appeals court in March quashed both convictions, saying that Gul should be acquitted but Dundar given a stiffer sentence of up to 20 years. A retrial then commenced.
The cases of Gul and Dundar have now been separated and Dundar remains on trial.
Gul is still working in his job for Cumhuriyet but Dundar left Turkey for Germany shortly after the initial verdict, saying he refused to put his head “under the guillotine.”
Cumhuriyet’s report on a shipment of arms intercepted at the Syrian border in January 2014 sparked a furor when it was published, fueling speculation about Turkey’s role in the Syrian conflict and its alleged ties to Islamist groups.
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan had reacted furiously to the allegations, personally warning Dundar he would “pay a heavy price.”
He has accused Fethullah Gulen, the US-based preacher blamed by Turkey for the 2016 failed coup, of instigating the scandal to discredit his government.
It was the first in a number of high profile criminal cases against journalists which multiplied after the failed July 2016 coup against Erdogan and amplified concerns over press freedoms in the country.
In a separate case, 13 journalists and staff from Cumhuriyet were given jail sentences of up to seven-and-a-half years in late April on terror-linked charges, which critics said was punishment for the paper’s anti-Erdogan stance.
They are all however still free pending appeal. Gul remains on trial in another separate case.


Bomb threat spurs evacuation at Facebook’s Silicon Valley campus

Facebook's campus is seen on the edge of the San Francisco Bay in Menlo Park, California in this aerial photo taken January 13, 2017. (REUTERS)
Updated 12 December 2018
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Bomb threat spurs evacuation at Facebook’s Silicon Valley campus

  • Another Silicon Valley company to face a security threat in the recent past was YouTube
  • Facebook and police said everyone was safe

SAN FRANCISCO: A bomb threat prompted authorities on Tuesday to evacuate a building at the Silicon Valley headquarters of Facebook Inc. near San Francisco, police said, but hours after a sweep of the structure began there was no word of explosives found.
The New York Police Department received an anonymous tip about a bomb threat regarding Facebook’s campus in Menlo Park, California, and alerted local authorities at about 4:30 p.m., said Nicole Acker, a spokeswoman for the Menlo Park police.
Acker said the evacuation was confined to a three-story facility on campus that she said was not the headquarters building, but a company spokesman said by email that “a few” buildings on the site had been evacuated.
Shortly before 8 p.m., San Mateo County Sheriff’s Office bomb squad investigators with dogs trained to detect explosives were still combing the building in question and the evacuation remained in effect, Acker told Reuters by telephone.
But Facebook and police said everyone was safe. Acker said she had received no information of anything suspicious having been found inside the building.
“This is what we do for any bomb threat. We have to be very thorough,” she added.
Another Silicon Valley company to face a security threat in the recent past was YouTube. In May, a woman opened fire at its headquarters in San Francisco, wounding three people before she shot herself dead.