Turkish daily Taraf's reporter faces spying probe for leak story

Turkish daily Taraf's reporter faces spying probe for leak story

Turkish daily Tarafs reporter faces spying probe for leak story

Baransu has had his name under many ‘leak reports’ that set Turkey’s agenda throughout the AKP’s time in government. DHA photo

Prosecutors have launched an investigation into daily Taraf reporter and columnist Mehmet Baransu, after he controversially revealed a document from a 2004 National Security Council (MGK) meeting.

The probe is investigating charges of “obtaining documents regarding state security,” “political or military spying,” “exposing documents regarding the state’s security or political good,” and “revealing forbidden information,” over Baransu’s publication of a state action plan against the activities of Islamic scholar Fethullah Gülen’s movement.

The document, published by the newspaper on Nov. 28, had heated up the row between the government and the Gülen movement.

Deputy Prime Minister Bülent Arınç subsequently confirmed the document’s existence, but denied that any action had been taken after its signing. The document was signed by, among others, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and other Cabinet members.

Arınç said the government definitely did not follow through with the recommendations, and also added that revealing secret documents was a crime and prosecutors should deal with it accordingly.

The Anatolia Public Prosecutor Press Crimes Bureau launched an initial investigation into Taraf’s report but, following a ruling of lack of jurisdiction, the file was sent today to the Istanbul Public Prosecutor, which is in charge of terror crimes.

The Prime Ministry, the National Intelligence Organization (MİT) and the National Security Council (MGK) on Dec. 4 filed criminal complaints against Taraf and its reporter Baransu over the revelation of the 2004 MGK decisions.

Main opposition: Cases against daily a blackout

Main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu said criminal complaints filed by the Prime Ministry, the MİT and the MGK against a journalist from Taraf aimed to “hide the truth from people.”

“If you limit freedom of newspapers and journalists, then you limit people’s right to be informed,” Kılıçdaroğlu said in response to questions on Dec. 6.

“Taraf is an important newspaper, it is reporting whether you like it or not. But free reporting of journalists is one of the fundamental conditions of democracy. Everybody should be careful about this.

The filing of criminal complaints is aimed at preventing people from learning certain truths that are being hidden by the government from the people. In that regard, I don’t think it is right,” he said.

The Dec. 6 edition of Taraf featured an editorial on its front page penned by its editor-in-chief, Neşe Düzel, stating “You cannot silence us.”

The reporter under investigation, Baransu, has had his name under many “leak reports” that set Turkey’s agenda throughout the AKP’s time in government. He had previously exposed documents related to Balyoz, a military coup plot against the ruling AKP said to have been planned in 2003.

Baransu also reported in June that Turkey’s intelligence agency MİT and various other organizations had signed protocols to collect detailed information about every individual in Turkey.

He was acquitted on charges of making “confidential and prohibited documents” public in 2010, after a lawsuit was filed against him over his report on military intelligence about an attack at Turkey’s Aktütün outpost in the southeastern province of Hakkari in October 2009.

The Turkish Air Forces Command had also filed a complaint against Baransu and Taraf’s managing editor for slandering the Turkish Armed Forces (TSK) and its personnel through their reports of fraud inside the army.