Turkey seeks up to 15 years for journalists, CHP deputy in MİT trucks case

İstanbul Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office on Wednesday demanded up to 15 years imprisonment for former Cumhuriyet daily editor-in-chief Can Dündar, Cumhuriyet Ankara representative Erdem Gül and main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) deputy Enis Berberoğlu for their role in publishing a report on National Intelligence Organization (MİT) trucks transporting weapons to rebels in Syria in 2014.

According state-run Anadolu news agency, the prosecution demanded during a hearing on Wednesday in İstanbul 14th High Criminal Court up to 15 years for Dündar, Gül and Berberoğlu who is currently behind bars.

Meanwhile, Berberoğlu demands for judge recusal was rejected by İstanbul 15th and 16th High Criminal Courts.

On June 14, Berberoğlu, who was a former editor-in-chief of Hürriyet daily, was sentenced to 25 years in prison for leaking classified information to a Cumhuriyet daily in May 2015.

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 Dündar and Gül, who published the report.

They were first jailed while facing trial on spy charges for publishing footage purporting to show 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 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 then drafted naming Berberoğlu.

In September 2016 an İstanbul court decided to merge the trial of journalists Dündar and Gül with that of Berberoğlu.

Turkey is the biggest jailer of journalists in the world. The most recent figures documented by the SCF has showed that 248 journalists and media workers are in jails as of December 19, 2017, most in pre-trial detention languishing in notorious Turkish prisons without even a conviction. Of those in Turkish prisons, 221 are arrested pending trial, only 27 journalists remain convicted and serving time in Turkish prisons. An outstanding detention warrants remain for 139 journalists who live 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 more than 180 media outlets after the controversial coup attempt. (SCF with turkishminute.com)

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