23 January 2018

Turkish MP gets 25 years in jail for exposing MIT arms aid to Syria militants

Deputy Chairman of Turkey’s opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) Enis Berberoglu

KONFRONTASI-A Turkish court has sentenced a prominent lawmaker from the main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) to 25 years in jail for his role in leaking secret documents to a newspaper showing the country's National Intelligence Organization (MIT) shipped weapons to foreign-backed Takfiri terrorists in Syria.

On Wednesday, Istanbul’s 14th Heavy Penal Court handed down the sentence to CHP Deputy Chairman Enis Berberoglu for releasing secret documents with the purpose of political or military espionage.

Berberoglu was arrested in the courthouse after the hearing. He will remain under arrest while waiting for the appeal process to conclude.

CHP spokesman Engin Altay sharply condemned the decision, saying he saw the verdict as an attempt by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's government to intimidate the opposition.

"This decision is intimidation to the opposition. This decision is intimidation to all who are displeased with the Justice and Development Party (AKP)," Altay told reporters outside the Caglayan Justice Palace in Istanbul.

He said the decision was a sign that the judiciary in Turkey was under the command of government executive organs.

Back in May 2015, Cumhuriyet daily posted on its website footage showing Turkish security forces in early 2014 intercepting a convoy of trucks carrying arms for the militants in Syria.

The paper said the trucks were carrying some 1,000 mortar shells, hundreds of grenade launchers and more than 80,000 rounds of ammunition for light and heavy weapons.

Ankara denied the allegation and claimed that the trucks had been carrying humanitarian aid to Syria. However, Berberoglu defended the video, saying it was genuine.

The incident triggered a huge controversy in Turkey with many bashing the government for explicitly supporting terrorism in neighboring Syria.

Cumhuriyet’s former editor-in-chief Can Dundar and Ankara bureau chief Erdem Gul were among other defendants in the case.

Last year, Dundar and Gul were sentenced to at least five years in jail for revealing what was said to be state secrets. The prosecutor is now seeking an additional 10 years in prison for the two over the report on MIT trucks.

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