The Turkish journalist Can Dündar traveled to Catalonia to attend the National Day rally as an act of defiance to the international arrest warrant issued by the government of Recep Tayyip Erdoğan that keeps him exiled in Germany.
“A couple of years ago one of my colleagues from Turkey was arrested in Spain, and warned me that if I came to Spain the same would happen to me, but I thought we had to take this risk and challenge these kinds of unlawful decisions,” said Dündar in an interview with Catalan News.
Dündar is part of a 70-strong group of activists, scholars, journalists, and politicians assembled by Foreign Friends of Catalonia, an association promoting the right to self-determination internationally.
A prominent detractor of Erdoğan’s regime, Dündar fled Turkey after spending 92 days in prison, surviving an assassination attempt, and being convicted to five years in jail for publishing footage showing Turkish intelligence services sending weapons to Syria.
Dündar criticized the imprisonment of Catalan pro-independence leaders in Spain, and compared their detention to that of Turkish dissidents. “We have political prisoners in jail and Spain has political prisoners in jail,” he said. “The only difference is that Spain is a member of the European Union and Turkey is just a candidate.”
He also warned that Spain’s approach to the Catalan independence crisis is being used by Turkish authorities as an excuse to justify the persecution of activists: “I’m sad that Spain gave the Turkish government a very bad example of Europe.”