Jailed journalist Baransu says, he only wrote on whatever Turkey was talking about

Former Taraf daily journalist Mehmet Baransu, who was jailed in March 2015, has said what he did was only to engage in his profession as a journalist and that he did not take orders from the Gülen movement while doing his job.

Baransu appeared before the İstanbul 13th High Criminal Court along with several other Taraf journalists on Thursday for the eighth hearing of their trial.

“I wrote on whatever Turkey was talking about. While everyone was talking about Dağlıca, it was impossible for me to write stories about Sibel Can [a Turkish singer],” said Baransu.

Dağlıca refers to an outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) attack in the Dağlıca district of Hakkari province in October 2007 in which 12 Turkish soldiers were killed and 10 others were abducted by the PKK.

Baransu wrote extensive reports at the time about the military negligence that led to the attack taking place.

The journalist said he wrote many important stories during his professional life as a journalist and did not take orders from the Gülen movement, as claimed by some, while writing them.

The Gülen movement is accused by the Turkish government of masterminding a failed coup attempt on July 15, 2016. The movement strongly denies any involvement in it.

In his defense, Baransu also said Turkish Prime President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan is now collaborating with people who were once his enemies.

“What is Yiğit Bulut, who has sworn at Erdoğan for years, doing near him today?” asked the journalist.

Bulut, who was once a fierce critic of Erdoğan, is now among the president’s chief advisors.

With regard to the Sledgehammer coup plot, which was first revealed by Baransu in the Taraf daily in 2010, Baransu said former Chief of General Staff Gen. Hilmi Özkök gave the documents on Sledgehammer to then-Prime Minister Erdoğan.

Turkey is the biggest jailer of journalists in the world. The most recent figures documented by SCF show that 254 journalists and media workers were in jail as of May 3, 2018, most in pretrial detention. Of those in prison 192 were under arrest pending trial while only 62 journalists have been convicted and are serving their time. Detention warrants are outstanding for 142 journalists who are living in exile or remain at large in Turkey.

Detaining tens of thousands of people over alleged links to the Gülen movement, the government also closed down about 200 media outlets, including Kurdish TVs and papers, after a coup attempt in Turkey on July 15, 2016. (SCF with turkishminute.com)

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