Journalist, CHP deputy marks fourth year in jail

Journalist, CHP deputy marks fourth year in jail

Journalist, CHP deputy marks fourth year in jail

Balbay, one of the 275 suspects in Ergenekon case, is seen in jail yard.

Republican People’s Party’s (CHP) İzmir deputy and journalist Mustafa Balbay is marking his fourth year in jail today in connection to his alleged role in the Ergenekon coup-plot case.

“On March 6, I will end four years in jail, the fifth one begins. My wife says, ‘It is March 5, not [March] 6 since they took you away from me that day,’” said Balbay in his regular column for daily Cumhuriyet yesterday.

“[Since being arrested], no new evidence has been added to my file, on the contrary, the existing evidence has also been found false; no one has testified to the contrary, but I am still arrested,” said the legislator.

Balbay, 52, was first detained at his house in Ankara July 1, 2008, as a part of the large Ergenekon investigation. After questioning and a search of his home, the columnist was released on July 5, but his computer was seized. However, he was detained once again on March 5, 2009, and arrested the next day.

He is one of the 275 suspects in the case, which is a combination of a number of separate filings over the so-called Ergenekon gang that allegedly aimed to topple the government.

Balbay, who has been kept in a cell since Feb. 28, 2011, was elected as a parliamentary deputy in the June 12 general elections that same year.

15-minute for defense

During a hearing in December last year, Balbay criticized the 15-minute time limit that was recently implemented for the suspects’ defenses. “I would like to begin my speech by expressing my longing for a Turkey in which people do not feel like captives while they are searching for justice,” Balbay said.

The basic evidence about Balbay’s alleged links with the gang is a softcopy diary reportedly found on his computer that allegedly showed evidence that the columnist planned a military coup between 2000 and 2005 with the late İlhan Selçuk, the former chief columnist of Cumhuriyet, and some other journalists and high-ranking soldiers.