Prosecutor says spying charges ‘unfounded’ in Cumhuriyet journalists’ trial

Prosecutor says spying charges ‘unfounded’ in Cumhuriyet journalists’ trial

Prosecutor says spying charges ‘unfounded’ in Cumhuriyet journalists’ trial

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Public prosecutor Evliya Çalışkan has said “espionage” charges against daily Cumhuriyet journalists Can Dündar and Erdem Gül, who are on trial for reporting on Turkish intelligence trucks allegedly transporting weapons to rebel groups in Syria, are “unfounded.” 

However, Çalışkan still demanded 25 years in jail for editor-in-chief Dündar and 10 years in jail for Ankara bureau chief Gül for “revealing state secrets,” Cumhuriyet reported. 

The prosecutor said requirements for espionage charges according to Supreme Court of Appeals case law have not been fulfilled in the Dündar and Gül case, stating that no evidence existed on the country on whose behalf Dündar and Gül was spying on Turkey. 

Nevertheless, Çalışkan demanded 25 years in jail for Dündar on charges of “being complicit in acquiring and revealing information that should remain secret, either for the security of the state or for the domestic or international benefit of the state.” He also asked for 10 years in prison for Gül for revealing information that should remain secret.

“A corrupt understanding of press freedoms is not in compliance with national or international legal norms or modern state practices,” the prosecutor said, slamming Dündar for neglecting national security, national interest, state secrets and court decisions. 

Çalışkan also referred to excerpts from Dündar’s recently published book describing the period before and after the printing of the intel trucks story, “Tutuklandık” (“We are Under Arrest” in Turkish), in which Dündar described the warnings of their lawyer. According to the book, Dündar’s lawyer said revealing state secrets was a crime that requires heavy punishment and serving jail time is “inevitable.” 

Çalışkan said this demonstrates that “as opposed to their defense, Can Dündar and Erdem Gül knew they were committing a crime and not pursuing journalistic activities.” 

He also stated that it was not possible to rule on charges of “knowingly aiding the armed terror group FETÖ/PDY [Fethullahist Terrorist Organization/Parallel State Structure],” “being complicit in a crime,” and “acquiring and revealing documents with the purposes of espionage” independently of a case in which prosecutors and soldiers are being tried for searching the intelligence agency trucks. 

An Istanbul court on April 22 rejected a prosecutor’s demand to merge the aforementioned case with that of the Cumhuriyet journalists.

In the other case, for which the merger demand was made, four prosecutors along with a gendarmerie officer are being tried for their role in stopping the trucks. The suspects in the case, who included former Adana chief public prosecutor Süleyman Bağrıyanık, former Adana gendarmerie commander Staff Col. Özkan Çokay and former prosecutors Aziz Takçı, Özcan Şişman and Ahmet Karaca, are being charged with “attempting to overthrow the state” and “revealing information about the state’s security and political activities” for stopping the trucks for a search on January 2014.

Çalışkan said it was necessary to separate the charges on aiding “FETÖ/PDY” from the current case and wait for the Supreme Court of Appeals’ decision.