Turkish journalist sentenced to 10 months in prison for ‘insulting’ Erdoğan
ISTANBUL – Doğan News Agency
DHA PhotoJournalist Mehmet Baransu has been sentenced to 10 months in prison for insulting Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on Twitter during the latter’s time as prime minister.
Baransu, a columnist for daily Taraf who was already under arrest in the Balyoz (Sledgehammer) coup plot case, said in the Anatolia 2nd Criminal Court of First Instance hearing on June 30 that there were eight fake Twitter accounts using his name, pleading not guilty and demanding his acquittal.
“Some tweets that I did not write are regarded as mine. The postings that I made through my own account, on the other hand, are entirely related to all events that went public and have no relation to ‘insulting,’” he said.
The indictment prepared by Anatolia Chief Public Prosecutor Sıddık Çinko had previously demanded a penalty of up to seven years in prison for Baransu for allegedly “insulting” and “blackmailing” Erdoğan, during his term as prime minister.
The court first sentenced Baransu to a year in jail, stating that there was “substantive reason” to accuse him of insulting via Twitter. It then reduced the sentence to 10 months in reference to his past, social relationships, and his good behavior during the trial.
Meanwhile, in a separate case on June 30 Baransu was sent to court with an arrest demand.
He was sent to court for his reporting on the Uludere massacre in which 34 civilians lost their lives in Turkish military airstrikes near the Iraqi border on Dec. 28, 2011.
Baransu testified as part of the investigation launched into charges of “revealing official documents that should remain secret for the state’s security and political interests” and “collecting secret official documents on the state security.”
The court rejected the arrest request for Baransu for his reporting on the Uludere case in 2011, but he remained in prison due to the ongoing Balyoz case.
“[Baransu] testified for reports published in Taraf in 2011 regarding the incident in which 34 civilians died,” said Sercan Sakallı, Baransu’s lawyer who was also present in court when he testified.
“Around two months ago, the National Intelligence Organization (MİT) filed a criminal complaint against the reports, which had helped shed light on the Uludere massacre. The prosecutor sent Baransu to the Istanbul Anatolia 3rd Criminal Court of Peace,” Sakallı added.
The ruling comes almost four months after Baransu was arrested in Istanbul on March 2 in an operation over the CDs that were used as evidence in the Balyoz (Sledgehammer) coup plot case.
In that case he 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.”