Court rejects appeal against jailing of main opposition CHP deputy Berberoğlu
An Istanbul court on June 19 rejected an appeal against the jailing of main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) deputy Enis Berberoğlu.
Berberoğlu was jailed on June 14, after an Istanbul court sentenced him to 25 years for “leaking state secrets” regarding a National Intelligence Organization (MİT) trucks case. The court ruled that Berberoğlu had “knowingly helped a terror organization” by providing “state secrets” to the media.
A day earlier, Berberoğlu said he will not be free until there is press freedom in Turkey. His message was shared on June 18 by CHP deputy Mahmut Tanal after a one-hour visit to Istanbul’s Maltepe Prison, where the lawmaker is imprisoned.
“Dear warriors of justice, I have from the very first moment seen this matter as an issue of press freedom. So, unless there is freedom of media in our country, I cannot be happy when I’m outside or inside. Because of this, I give my support to the justice march [of CHP] with my sincerest feelings, and I convey my wishes of power and success to you,” Berberoğlu said in his message.
“We will ask for justice for everyone. We invite every fraction [of society] to join this justice march; those who suffered, those seeking justice, those seeking the state of law, those seeking democracy, those seeking the rule of law and those seeking a just trial. We want to have support on social media and in the march. If you are not able to come, take five steps within your houses for justice,” Tanal told journalists before entering Maltepe Prison.
CHP leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu commenced a march from Ankara to Istanbul on June 15 in protest at the arrest of Berberoğlu. Kılıçdaroğlu is set to march over 24 days from the capital to Istanbul, a distance of around 450 km, to the Maltepe Prison.
Tanal, after seeing Berberoğlu in prison, said the jailed deputy was in good spirits. “He believes that justice will ultimately prevail in our country. He says his case is not a result of a legal decision, but it is a political one, and that he is being defamed for a crime he did not commit,” he added.
Press unions criticize Erdoğan’s comments
Several journalists’ unions have criticized President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s earlier comments that out of the 177 jailed journalists in Turkey “only two have press cards.”
“Out of these 177 people, one is jailed for murder, and the others are in jail due to their connections with terror organizations,” Erdoğan said on June 17 at an iftar dinner with media representatives.
The head of the Turkish Association of Journalists (TGC), Turgay Olcayto, told daily Cumhuriyet: “Our jailed journalist friends are guilt-free until the judiciary makes a finalized decision. Most of them do not even know of which crime they are being accused of. Such allegations by the president are severe.”
“The president has shown us once again that justice in Turkey is not functioning independently. Our advice to the president is that he should read the indictments [prepared against the jailed journalists] and see if the accusations are based on journalistic activities, and then he should comment,” Turkish Journalists’ Union (TGS) head Gökhan Durmuş told the daily.
“We got used to such statements [by Erdoğan]. Let everyone say whatever they want. The jailed journalists are inside because of their journalistic activities, because they run after news, because they are after the truth,” Pınar Türenç, the head of Turkish Press Council, said.