Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan Reuters

A court in Istanbul on Thursday charged two journalists from the opposition Cumhuriyet daily with spying after they alleged Turkey's secret services had sent arms to Islamist rebels in Syria, AFP reported, citing Turkish media.

Editor-in-chief Can Dundar and Erdem Gul, the paper's Ankara bureau chief, are accused of spying and "divulging state secrets", the reports said. Both men were taken into custody.

According to Cumhuriyet, Turkish security forces in January 2014 intercepted a convoy of trucks near the Syrian border and discovered boxes of what the daily described as weapons and ammunition to be sent to rebels fighting against Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad.

It linked the seized trucks to the Turkish National Intelligence Organization (MIT).

The revelations, published in May, caused a political storm in Turkey, with an enraged President Recep Tayyip Erdogan vowing Dundar would pay a "heavy price".

He then personally filed a criminal complaint against Dundar, 54, demanding he serve multiple life sentences.

This is not the first time that Turkey’s government has targeted Cumhuriyet or other media outlets which criticize Erdogan.

In June, a reporter from Cumhuriyetwas one of four journalists who were detained  by Turkish forces after they asked the local governor a tricky question on Islamic State (ISIS) terrorists.

Last year, Turkish police earlier raided media outlets close to U.S.-based Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen, whom Erdogan accuses of forming a 'parallel state' to undermine his rule and orchestrating a graft scandal targeting his inner circle.

When the European Union (EU) criticized Erdogan over the raids, he responded by saying EU leaders should try to find a solution for the increasing Islamophobia in Europe instead of criticizing Turkey.