Opposition politician arrested for alleged espionage

Turkish defense analyst and Democracy and Progress Party (DEVA) politician Metin Gürcan has been jailed on charges of “political and military espionage,” Agence France-Presse reported, citing local media on Tuesday.

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).

Turkish police detained him on Friday.

“I am being detained on charges of political espionage. The police are at home… They are searching. I am shocked and I seek your help,” Gürcan tweeted last week.

Gürcan was then jailed on Monday, according to NTV.

“As far as we know, Metin has no way to access to any classified state document,” Babacan told Haberturk TV, “because he is not working for the state.”

Gürcan was detained in a raid on his house in İstanbul on Friday morning as part of an investigation launched by the Ankara Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office and was taken to the counterterrorism unit of the Ankara Police Department, where he was interrogated for two days before he was referred to court.

During his interrogation, the police reportedly questioned him about his meetings and phone conversations with foreign diplomats.

“In these meetings, I gave them schedules and analyses for weekly developments in Turkey and Middle Eastern countries. But I strongly reject the espionage charge. I haven’t given any diplomat any confidential official information or document,” Gürcan reportedly said in his testimony.

Gürcan said he has been providing paid consultancy services to various people and institutions since 2019 and relies on publicly available sources on developments in Turkey and other countries such as Syria, Iran, Iraq, Ukraine, Afghanistan and Libya.

Referring to a phone conversation he had with a foreign diplomat about the Turkish drones in Nagorno-Karabakh, the police questioned Gürcan about his use of the word “headquarters” during the discussion.

Gürcan said he used the word to refer to the headquarters of his party, adding, “This should be obvious to anyone who can speak English at the beginner’s level.”

His lawyers said the information available to Gürcan could be obtained from publicly available sources.

It turns out that Gürcan had been under police surveillance and his phone calls were wiretapped for more than a year.

Gürcan recently criticized the government’s agreements with the United Arab Emirates, arguing that Turkey would be forced to make concessions in return for investment pledged by the UAE.

Last Wednesday, during a visit to Ankara by Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed, the UAE announced a $10 billion fund for investments in Turkey.

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