CHP deputy files criminal complaint against Turkey’s deputy PM over ‘intel trucks’ statement

Turkey's Deputy Prime Minister Tuğrul Türkeş.

Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) deputy Murat Emir has filed a criminal complaint against Deputy Prime Minister Tuğrul Türkeş, accusing him of “revealing secret state information,” reported by Hurriyet daily.

Türkeş, had said in a televised interview in November 2015 that Turkish Intelligence Organization (MİT) trucks bound for Syria, which were allegedly carrying arms for Syrian jihadist groups, were not intended for Turkmens. “I swear to God those arms were not going to the Turkmens,” Türkeş had said at the time, when he was still a deputy for the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), criticizing then Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu and  Turkey’s autocratic President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan for claiming that the trucks were for Turkmens in Syria.

CHP deputy Emir noted that Cumhuriyet editor-in-chief Can Dündar and Cuhmuriyet Ankara bureau chief Erdem Gül were convicted for “revealing state secrets” over reports on the same trucks, while CHP deputy Enis Berberoğlu was also convicted for allegedly supplying them with the story in early 2014.

In a written statement on June 20, Emir said Türkeş’s remarks are within the scope of the relevant article of criminal law, stating that “Anyone, who discloses information that must be kept secret by the State in terms of security or internal or external political benefits, shall be sentenced to five years to 10 years in prison.”

He noted that journalists who reported news of the weapons-loaded truck faced charges of “espionage,” but Tuğrul Türkeş faced no legal investigation for his remarks. Emir said this showed that Turkey’s justice system is under the control of the government, as it “did not touch Türkeş, who revealed crucial information” but convicted Berberoğlu “without legal evidence.”

A high criminal court in İstanbul on June 14, 2017 handed down a prison sentence of 25 years to CHP deputy Enis Berberoğlu over a report on for ‘leaking state secrets’ in the Syria-bound National Intelligence Organization (MİT) trucks case. Former journalist and CHP deputy Berberoğlu was sent to prison immediately after the ruling was announced.

The decision was made by the İstanbul 14th High Criminal Court. Berberoğlu was convicted of revealing state information that was supposed to remain secret for the purpose of political and military spying. Berberoğlu, who became the first CHP lawmaker to be handed prison time, was accused of providing daily Cumhuriyet with video purporting to show Turkey’s intelligence agency trucking weapons to Syria.

Cumhuriyet daily had reported in May 2015 that  trucks allegedly owned by the National Intelligence Agency (MİT) were found to contain weapons and ammunition that were headed for Syria when they were stopped and searched in southern Turkey in early 2014.

When the MİT truck story first broke in 2015, it produced a political firestorm in Turkey about the role of the Turkish spy agency in arming rebel factions in Syria and prompted an investigation into Cumhuriyet daily journalists Can Dündar and Erdem Gül, who published the report.

They were first jailed while facing trial on spy charges for publishing footage purporting to show the MİT transporting weapons to Syria in 2014. Later, the two journalists were released pending trial.

When Dündar later published a book titled “We Are Arrested,” he mapped out the details of the news story on May 27, 2015, saying that a leftist lawmaker brought the information to him. Upon that new revelation, the İstanbul Public Prosecutor’s Office launched a new investigation and examined Dündar’s phone calls during the days leading up to the publication of the story.

The prosecutor’s office detected a phone conversation between CHP deputy Berberoğlu and Dündar on May 27. A new indictment was drafted for Berberoğlu.

The Turkish government has accused followers of the Gülen movement in the judiciary and security institutions of illegally ordering the search, claiming that the trucks were carrying “humanitarian aid to Turkmens” in Syria.

The court first gave a life sentence to Berberoğlu on charges of ‘revealing the information of the state that should stay secret for the purposes of political and military spying.’ But the court subsequently reduced the sentence to 25 years. The court also said the lawmaker would be stripped of his political rights following the announcement of the decision.

Cumhuriyet’s Ankara bureau chief, Erdem Gül, was also present at the hearing on Wednesday, while the newspaper’s former editor-in-chief, Can Dündar, did not attend as he left for Germany last year. “It is a decision to obstruct journalism,” Gül told reporters outside the court.

The court ruled to separate Berberoğlu’s file from that of Dündar and Gül, who are accused of ‘intentionally and willfully aiding an armed terror group.’ The court, which did not render a verdict for Gül and Dündar, saying their trials would continue.

June 21, 2017


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