The ruling has been issued in the trial of journalists Erdem Gül, Can Dündar and the CHP’s Enis Berberoğlu for their reports into the intelligence agency’s ammunition-laden lorries. The court sentenced Berberoğlu to 25 years’ imprisonment on the count of, ‘Disclosing for political and military espionage purposes state information that required to remain confidential’ and ordered his detention. The court, having detained Berberoğlu on flight risk grounds, severed the count of knowingly and willingly aiding an organisation without being a member against Berberoğlu from Gül and Dündar’s case. A verdict has been reached in the trial of our newspaper’s Ankara Representative Erdem Gül, our former Editor-in-Chief Can Dündar and CHP MP Enis Berberoğlu for their reports into the intelligence agency’s ammunition-laden lorries. The hearing held yesterday at Istanbul Serious Crime Court No 14 was attended by Erdem Gül and Enis Berberoğlu and their counsel and counsel for President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and the intelligence agency undersecretariat. Thanks to a confidentiality order, spectators at the hearing held on a closed basis were removed from the courtroom as the judgment was read. The court bench, presided over by Ali İhsan Horasan, initially passed a life sentence on Berberoğlu on the count of disclosing information for political and military espionage purposes that required to remain confidential in view of the state’s security or its domestic or foreign political interests. With the potential impact of the punishment on Berberoğlu’s future considered to be a mitigating circumstance, the sentence was commuted to 25 years.
Deemed to be a flight risk
The bench stated that the charge against Berberoğlu was substantiated by the HTS records and base station data in the file and Can Dündar’s statements in the public domain and contained in his book. The bench, asserting that there existed concrete indications that he would flee and go into hiding in view of the severity of the sentence that had been passed, ordered Berberoğlu to be detained pursuant to Article 100 of the Code of Criminal Procedure.
The bench also severed the count against Berberoğlu of knowingly and willingly aiding an organisation without being a member from Gül and Dündar’s case and ruled that it be conducted under another case number.
Let those who did this stand in shame
Berberoğlu made a statement following the order for his detention while he was being escorted by police to the police centre in the judicial complex. Berberoğlu said, ‘This is not the first time I have come to the judicial complex. We have seen the law being slaughtered countless times in the chambers of a complex that, apart from its name, has absolutely nothing to do with justice. I know that you won’t forget me and I won’t forget you, either. We used to come here for the wronged and the innocent. Today, I came for myself. They have created such injustice out of an unprecedented affair and news report. Let those who did this stand in shame.’
Hasty written opinion
Istanbul Serious Crime Court handed down sentences of five years to Gül and five years and ten months to Dündar in May 2016, and at today’s hearing into the charge of ‘aiding an armed terrorist organisation without being a member’ it ruled that the count be severed from the main case. Berberoğlu, who was stripped of his parliamentary immunity in September 2016 when he began to be tried for this crime, was named as a defendant in this case in the indictment drafted against him. Over the trial, the hearing prosecutor Mehmet Yeşilkaya hastily produced his written opinion in January 2017 without hearing witnesses. In the opinion, life imprisonment was sought for Enis Berberoğlu on the count of, ‘Disclosing for political and military espionage purposes state information that required to remain confidential.’ The prosecutor also sought sentences of up to fifteen years each for Berberoğlu, Gül and Dündar on the count of, ‘Knowingly and willingly aiding an armed terrorist organisation without being a member.’
They have been unable to prove it
Berberoğlu’s wife Oya Berberoğlu, voicing the shock she felt at the detention order, commented, ‘There is no evidence in the file. I had allowed myself to hope that the court bench might search its conscience. There is no such crime. They have been unable to prove anything. There are two things in the indictment: membership of FETO and something like giving aid. They have been unable to prove that, either. Both are reports. Reports that are in fact all over the place. Enis is going inside but it is the CHP that is being detained here.’
This business will end to my advantage
Erdem Gül, making a statement in front of the judicial complex after the ruling, said, ‘This is obviously a journalism trial. There are just two news reports circulating and we have seen a life sentence for this today. It is a typical trial for punishing reporting and journalism. A “Don’t report the news, don’t engage in journalism” ruling. I was beside Berberoğlu as he was being detained. He has messages. He says, “This business will end to my advantage. I will surmount this, too. It is enough for the country to be rescued from this nightmare. I am up for thousands of life sentences, not one, for the country to be rescued from this nightmare. Let nobody be despondent. All that I want is for people to think. Let them move into action to rescue Turkey from where it now stands. Let them make Turkey into a free, democratic country”.’
Berberoğlu’s lawyer Murat Ergün, on the other hand, said that he was ashamed on behalf of the law. Ergün said, ‘In a place where sons-in-law are released, with them said to have a fixed address, be unable to sleep well or be suffering sleeplessness, an Istanbul MP who has attended every hearing, has a toasted sandwich at that cafeteria at lunchtime and comes back to the hearing is detained. The detention finds no place in my conscience, mind or knowledge of the law. I complain to the Turkish people about the unlawfulness that has been perpetrated.’