How many spies does it take to disclose a secret?
The legal case in which Can Dündar, editor in-chief of daily Cumhuriyet, Erdem Gül, Cumhuriyet’s Ankara representative, and Enis Berberoğlu, main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) lawmaker, are being tried has reached such a point that it can be studied in law and communications schools. Here is what law experts unanimously say about the case:
For a criminal trial to be held, an “action” that fits the legal definition of a “crime” needs to take place. Below is the ways in which we can summarize the entirety of the trials on the Turkish Intelligence Organization (MİT) trucks bound for Syria, including different lists of various suspects:
On Jan. 2014, in 20-day intervals, MİT trucks were stopped and checked at southern border province of Hatay’s Kırıkhan district and in the southern province of Adana’s Ceyhan district. Besides the poor treatment of the MİT personnel, the footage showing the trucks and the examinations of the trucks were then published by various news outlets. Daily Cumhuriyet was one of them.
Four accusations and the state of the suspects
This action matches four main categories under the Turkish Penalty Law (TCK):
1) Attempting to overthrow the government: The prosecutors who ordered the stopping of the trucks as well as chief police officers are on trial based on these accusations by the Supreme Court’s 16th Penal Chamber. Dündar and Gül were acquitted of these charges at the Istanbul 14th Heavy Penal Court. Berberoğlu was not accused with this crime.
2) Espionage: Former prosecutors and military suspects of the Supreme Court’s 16th Penal Chamber are being accused on “espionage” offences. Gül and Dündar were acquitted of these charges as Berberoğlu is charged with the offense.
According to court practice, the secret must be obtained from the suspect, the original source of the secret for the “espionage” offense to actualize. While Istanbul 2nd Court of Appeals reversed the 14th Heavy Penal Court’s decision on Berberoğlu, it requested that the decision would be evaluated in terms of “obtaining” and proved that the act of espionage was not verified. There was no evidence provided to the 14th Heavy Penal Court that Berberoğlu had received the footage directly from the source.
3) Disclosure of a state secret: Law enforcement officials and prosecutors on trial in the case held at the Court of Appeals’ 16th Penal Chamber are accused of “disclosing a state secret.”
Supreme Court practices and the 2nd Court of Appeals’ decision are based on the view that for information to be “a revealed secret,” it must be passed onto a person who does not know about the information from the source of the tip.
4) Membership to an organization: Many involved in the investigation into the MİT trucks and are tried at the Tarsus 2nd, Adana 7th, Ankara 2nd, Ankara 18th and Istanbul 14th Heavy Penal Courts are also accused of being members of the Fethullahist Terror Organization (FETÖ). The indictments also include the suspects’ ties with the organization, and their use of ByLock, a smartphone application once used by members of the Gülen network to send encrypted messages to each other. Dündar, Gül and Berberoğlu are on trial for “aiding the organization without membership.”
High Court’s decision could turn things around
If the High Court’s 16th Penal Chamber convicts the former members of the prosecution and law enforcement officials who stopped the MİT trucks with “espionage” and “revealing a state secret” offences, the convictions Berberoğlu, Gül and Dündar are subjected to could become contentious looking at the Supreme Court practices and Appeals Court’s decision. They could even be dealing with offences such as “violating secrecy of the investigation” and “influencing the ruling.”
Why did the mayor of Esenyurt resign?
Just as we were trying to digest the resignation of the mayors of Istanbul, Düzce, Ankara, Bursa, Balıkesir and Niğde, Istanbul’s Esenyurt district mayor Necmi Kadıoğlu also resigned. In Kadıoğlu’s case, there were no “health reasons” or “metal fatigue” – as President Recep Tayip Erdoğan describes the situation of previous mayors who resigned.
So, what is the real reason? Here is what we learned after walking through the corridors of the ruling Justice and Development Party’s (AKP) offices and the streets of Esenyurt: Kadıoğlu, at a casual meeting, had uttered his criticisms against Erdoğan and spoke about past encounters he had with the president. The notes taken at that meeting apparently somehow made their way to Ankara.