Opposition politician accused of espionage released pending trial

Metin Gürcan, a defense analyst and Democracy and Progress Party (DEVA) politician who was accused of “political and military espionage,” was released pending trial on Wednesday by the Ankara 26th High Criminal Court after five months in pretrial detention, the Bianet news website reported.

An indictment seeking a life sentence and an additional 35 years for Gürcan was accepted in February by the Ankara court in which the politician is accused of disclosing confidential information related to the state’s “security and political interests” and “acquiring confidential information of the state for political and military espionage” under Article 328 of the Turkish Penal Code (TCK).

Gürcan, a former member of the Turkish military, was one of the co-founders of the DEVA Party led by Ali Babacan, a former deputy prime minister from President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP).

He was detained in a police raid on his house in İstanbul on November 26 and was arrested pending trial on November 29.

The first indictment drafted by the Ankara Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office for Gürcan was rejected by the Ankara 26th High Criminal Court on the grounds that it was not clear whether the information allegedly shared by Gürcan with foreign officials was a state secret or not. The court asked the prosecutor’s office to get an opinion from the Defense Ministry and the National Intelligence Organization (MİT), which both said the information shared by Gürcan with foreign officials could be considered state secrets.

The indictment was accepted by the court after the prosecutor’s office included documents from the Defense Ministry and MİT confirming the prosecutor’s accusations.

Gürcan disclosed state secrets to foreign officials, according to the indictment, which included photos and records of technical and physical surveillance of the politician from his meetings and discussions with the foreign officials.

According to Gürcan’s testimony in the indictment, he denied the espionage charges, saying he began to write military and geostrategic analyses following his retirement from the Turkish Armed Forces (TSK) for foreign publications based on publicly available sources.

The politician said he worked at the TSK for years after his retirement and has been offering consultancy services to various people and institutions since 2009. Gürcan said he regularly met with foreign diplomats in Ankara and wrote analyses for them in return for payment.

The first hearing in his trial was held on March 30.

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