Prosecutor demands up to 15 years in jail for CHP MP, journalists in intel trucks case
The prosecutor in the case of National Intelligence Organization (MİT) trucks bound for Syria in 2014 has demanded up to 15 years in jail for main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) deputy Enis Berberoğlu, former daily Cumhuriyet editor-in-chief Can Dündar and Cumhuriyet Ankara bureau chief Erdem Gül on terror charges.
The Dec. 20 hearing at Istanbul’s 14th high criminal court saw the participation of imprisoned CHP deputy Berberoğlu as well as daily Aydınlık editor-in-chief Mustafa İlker Yücel and Aydınlık’s former head news editor Orhan Ceyhun Bozkurt, who are both being tried on charges of “leaking state secrets.”
In its interim ruling, the court ordered the separation of the daily Aydınlık case from the Dündar, Gül and Berberoğlu case.
The next hearing of the case was adjourned to Jan. 24, 2018.
Prosecutor Mehmet Yeşilkaya demanded prison terms ranging from between 7.5 years and 15 years for Dündar, Gül and Berberoğlu, claiming that the trio knowingly engaged in activities “aiding the Fethullahist Terror Organization [FETÖ]” in line with its goals, without actively being involved in its hierarchical structure, by publishing images about the MİT trucks.
Berberoğlu’s lawyer Murat Ergün told reporters after the hearing that the prosecutor wanted to “give a penalty in advance” without the presence of any conviction regarding the charges against his client.
“It is like demanding money for a meal that you have not eaten at a restaurant … The situation will become clearer following the appeals process,” Ergün said.
CHP deputy Mahmut Tanal blasted the case as a “political” one that it continuing against the course of a legal process.
“Innocent people are being punished. This is the murder of the law,” Tanal told reporters after the hearing.
Berberoğlu was sentenced to 25 years in prison on June 14 for allegedly “leaking state secrets” in the MİT trucks case, in which he is accused of providing daily Cumhuriyet with a video purporting to show the intelligence agency sending weapons to jihadists in Syria, after gendarmerie officers halted the trucks near the Syrian border on Jan. 19, 2014.
Earlier this month, the prosecutor had demanded life in jail for the CHP deputy on charges of “disclosing state secrets.”
Dündar and Gül were previously arrested over their MİT trucks reports published on Nov. 26, 2015, imprisoned pending trial for three months. They were released pending trial on Feb. 26 after a ruling by the Constitutional Court.
The case - in which they are tried on charges of “knowingly and willingly aiding the FETÖ/PYD armed terror organization” - was subsequently merged with Berberoğlu’s case.
A separate lawsuit was filed against the Aydınlık editor-in-chief and its head news editor on charges of “revealing information bound to be secret regarding the security and the political interest of the state.” Both Yücel and Bozkurt now face prison terms ranging from five years to 10 years on charges of “knowingly and willingly aiding the armed terror organization.”