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Turkish Court Jails Gunman After Attack on Opposition Journalist

An Istanbul court on Tuesday sentenced a gunman to 10 months in jail over a 2016 shooting incident targeting opposition journalist Can Dundar but acquitted him of threatening with a gun.

Dundar, the veteran journalist targetted in the incident, who now lives in exile in Germany, condemned the penalty as absurdly light and likely to encourage further attacks.

At the time of the May 6, 2016 attack, Dundar was editor of opposition Cumhuriyet newspaper and locked in a legal battle with the authorities over his reporting.

He was waiting outside the Istanbul court during a break in the hearing when Murat Sahin aimed the gun and fired, but was bundled away by police.

Although Dundar was unharmed in the attack, an NTV journalist was hit in the leg.

The court sentenced gunman Sahin to 10 months in jail and ordered him to pay a 4,500 lira fine (750 dollars), Turkish media reported.

But it acquitted him of the charge of threatening with a gun, jailing him for “carrying an unlicensed gun”. He was fined the 4,500 lira for wounding the NTV journalist.

Responding to the verdict on social media, Dundar wrote: “What is the punishment of firing a gun at a journalist in Turkey? Acquittal. If the assailant injures another mistakenly? 4,500 lira.

“This decision is a medal given to a person who pointed gun at journalist. And it is a message of support to those who fire: ‘Don’t hesitate. The state is behind you.'”

Dundar was on trial at the time over a Cumhuriyet story that alleged Turkey was sending arms to militants in Syria. He was eventually sentenced to five years and 10 months jail for revealing state secrets.

While free pending appeal he fled to Germany, saying there was no reason to serve the jail sentence for his Cumhuriyet story.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan had vowed he would “pay a price” for the report.

During a visit to Berlin last week, Erdogan handed Germany a list of dozens of people it wants extradited, including Dundar, whom he called “a spy” in his speech there.

“He is a person who has disclosed state secrets,” he said. “It is our natural right to want the extradition of a guilty individual.”

Gunman Sahin, although detained following the attack, had been released on bail by the court in October 2016 pending trial.

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