Taraf journalists appear in court for first time over Balyoz case
ISTANBULFour journalists who previously worked in the shut-down Turkish daily Taraf appeared in court over the Balyoz (Sledgehammer) coup plot case on Sept. 2.
Complaints were filed against Mehmet Baransu, who is under arrest, and Yasemin Çongar, Ahmet Altan and Yıldıray Oğur for obtaining and publishing classified documents belonging to the Turkish General Staff. Tuncay Opçin, who is being sought with an arrest warrant, did not join the hearing in Istanbul.
The lawyers of the soldiers, who were tried and acquitted in Balyoz case and who later filed the complaints against the Taraf journalists, were present in the courtroom.
Balyoz was an alleged military coup plot targeting the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) that was allegedly drafted in 2003. The case’s indictment alleged that factions within the military had planned drastic actions to foment unrest in the country in order to remove the AKP from power.
Baransu broke the story of the Sledgehammer coup plot case by delivering a whole suitcase of documents on the allegations to the Istanbul Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office in January 2010. The suitcase included CDs, tapes, printed documents and handwritten notes as evidence for the coup case.
“Mehmet Baransu didn’t mention any war or defense plan to us. As the managing cadre of the newspaper, our interest was limited to the coup plot. We never laid emphasis upon getting war plans or publishing them. I wasn’t even in the office when Baransu brought the suitcase in,” Çongar told the court.
All 236 suspects in the Balyoz coup plot case were acquitted on March 31, 2015, after the case’s prosecutor argued that digital data in the files submitted as evidence in the case was “fake” and did not constitute evidence.
A prosecutor is seeking up to 75 years in prison for Baransu and Opçin and up to 52 years in prison for Çongar, Oğur and Altan.