Turkish journalist arrested over evidence in Balyoz case
DHA PhotoJournalist Mehmet Baransu was arrested on March 2 after being detained by anti-terror police in Istanbul in an operation over the CDs that were used as evidence in the Balyoz (Sledgehammer) coup plot case.
Baransu is accused of “forming a criminal organization,” as well as procuring, publicizing and then destroying “documents related to the state’s interests at home and abroad.”
Police detained Baransu late on March 1 after searching his home for almost 10 hours, seizing a number of documents.
Baransu, a reporter for daily Taraf, 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.
Sledgehammer is an alleged military coup plot against the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) drafted in 2003. The military is alleged to have planned drastic measures to foment unrest in the country in order to remove the AKP from power.
Those measures included bombing two major mosques in Istanbul, an assault on a military museum by people disguised as religious extremists and the raising of tension with Greece through an attack on a Turkish plane and blaming the incident on the Aegean neighbor.
An Istanbul court had sentenced 331 of the 365 suspects to prison terms on Sept. 21, 2012, while 34 suspects were acquitted. Three retired generals were convicted to life on charges of “attempting to overthrow the government by force,” but the terms were later reduced to 20 years because of the “incomplete attempt at staging a coup,” the court said.
Turkey’s Constitutional Court delivered a landmark ruling in June 2014 deciding that the rights of a majority of the convicted suspects in the Sledgehammer coup plot case were violated concerning “digital data and the defendants’ testimonies.” All 236 Balyoz suspects and convicts, including high-ranking generals, were released directly after the top court’s rule and there are currently no arrested people in the case, while the retrial of the case began on Nov. 3, 2014.
A Dec. 15, 2014 expert report has revealed that key pieces of evidence in the case were fabricated, stating that the notes on two CDs were written by a machine, not handwritten by General Süha Tanyeri as previously alleged.
Another expert report dated Feb. 17, revealed that more pieces of evidence in the case were fabricated.
“The team concludes that some additional files and folders were uploaded on hard disk number 5 after July 28, 2009, and that the dates of these files and folders are not up to date,” according to a report by a team of experts that was read to the court.
Baransu drew attention by sharing controversial Tweets via the social media platform Twitter and was arrested on several occasions, though none of them resulted in an arrest.