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Reporter faces prison term after publishing allegations about military official's actions

(BIANET/IFEX) - "Taraf" newspaper reporter Mehmet Baransu is facing imprisonment on charges of "disclosing information related to the security and political interests of the state", based on article 329 of the Turkish Criminal Law (TCK). The charges are based on a news story entitled "Aslan Pasha's guilty ears", published on 30 August 2010.

The Istanbul Public Prosecutor, Hakan Karaali, prepared a two-page indictment and has demanded that the journalist be imprisoned for five to ten years. The complaint was filed by the Military Prosecution of the General Staff Presidency.

The news story published in the national daily said that Deputy Chief of General Staff, Aslan Guner, had "signed a scandalous procedure" during his time as Lieutenant General at the Intelligence Office Presidency in 2007. It furthermore said that the General Staff Electronic Systems (GES) purchased from Israel for the alleged purpose of "wiretapping members of the (militant) Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK)" was actually bought to eavesdrop on high-profile individuals.

The story said that only the National Intelligence Agency (MIT) had the authority to wiretap. According to the news item, neither the police nor the gendarmerie had the authority to purchase listening devices for the GES Command or to eavesdrop.

In addition, Baransu reported that Guner had presented a circular from 2002 as the reason for the illegal wiretapping. Based on a decision the Defence Industry Executive Committee made five years earlier, he supposedly concealed his purchase from the Prime Minister and the Minister of Defence, who are members of the Committee.

Baransu denounced the charges against him on the basis of his revelation of illegal wiretapping as a violation of the right to privacy. He also criticised Guner's defence in which he stated that he bought the equipment "without authorisation" to use it abroad.

Baransu will be tried at the Istanbul High Criminal Court. The first hearing has not yet been scheduled. Baransu said, "I went to the 1st Army Command and gave my statement within the scope of the military investigation. I will publish the documents I have on hand in case the General Staff attempts to obstruct or conceal information in the investigation. I will disclose the irregularities in the purchase of the equipment. I have documents regarding the use of the equipment in Cyprus and regarding the person who was given responsibility for the equipment. I will publish these documents."

The Istanbul 14th High Criminal Court previously acquitted Baransu of the same charges, which had been pressed against him based on the publication of allegedly "classified documents" relating to a raid on the Aktutun police station.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION
Related stories on ifex.org
  • Newspaper journalists facing long jail sentences

    Prosecutors in Istanbul have called for a 10-year prison sentence for reporter Mehmet Baransu after he published "classified" documents related to the PKK.



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