Turkish court rules to keep jailed journalist Baransu in prison

An İstanbul court on Monday ruled to keep in prison former Taraf daily journalist Mehmet Baransu, who was jailed in March 2015 after he revealed an alleged government plan to “eliminate the Gülen movement” based on a secret document he published in 2013, the T24 news website reported.

According to the report Baransu said he was unable to present his defense. “I was ready to make my defense, but my documents were seized when I was leaving the prison for court this morning. I cannot make my defense. I will do so after the books I mentioned in my petition are given to me. I want my books back.”

Baransu also asked the court to lift its ban on the rights of lawyers.

When the judge said Baransu was on the list of users of smart phone application ByLock, the journalist said he had not yet received the report on his mobile.

“The day where I and Ahmet Altan [editor in chief of Taraf] are released, many things will have changed in this country,” added Baransu.

The court scheduled the next hearing for Jan. 31.

In September a prosecutor at the İstanbul Public Prosecutor’s Office demanded Baransu’s conviction and a sentence of up to 31 years in a criminal case regarding a news story that revealed a National Security Council (MGK) document of 2004 in which the Justice and Development Party (AKP) government agreed to eliminate the Gülen movement, which is accused by the AKP of masterminding a failed coup attempt on July 15, 2016.

Baransu, an outspoken government critic, was put behind bars on March 2, 2015 on charges of releasing classified documents. Nearly 30 police officers raided and searched his home in İstanbul’s Eyüp district for 12 hours before detaining him for questioning in relation to documents he submitted to prosecutors in 2010, prompting a major coup trial known as “Sledgehammer” that implicated top military officers.

Turkey is the biggest jailer of journalists in the world. The most recent figures documented by the SCF has showed that 256 journalists and media workers are in jails as of November 21, 2017, most in pre-trial detention languishing in notorious Turkish prisons without even a conviction. Of those in Turkish prisons, 230 are arrested pending trial, only 26 journalists remain convicted and serving time in Turkish prisons. An outstanding detention warrants remain for 135 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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