Turkey: Opposition CHP deputy gets 25 years in MIT trucks case

CHP’s Enis Berberoglu convicted of making secret information public for espionage by leaking footage of MIT trucks incident.

A main opposition party deputy was sentenced to 25 years in prison on Wednesday over making secret information public for the purpose of political or military espionage.

Istanbul’s 14th Heavy Penal Court handed down the sentence to Republican People’s Party (CHP) Deputy Enis Berberoglu over newspaper coverage of a number of National Intelligence Organization (MIT) trucks stopped en route to Syria in January 2014.

The MIT trucks were stopped by local gendarmerie in the southern province of Adana, despite a national security law forbidding such a search.

The Interior Ministry denied that the trucks were carrying arms to groups in northern Syria, saying that in fact they were transporting humanitarian aid to the Turkmen community in the war-torn country.

Berberoglu was accused of leaking footage of the stopped MIT trucks to Can Dundar, then editor-in-chief of Cumhuriyet daily.

The court convicted Berberoglu of “making public information that must be kept confidential for state security …. for purposes of political or military espionage.”

In addition, the court ordered that the current case be separated from a case against Berberoglu, Dundar and Cumhuriyet Ankara bureau chief Erdem Gul for “helping an armed terrorist organization knowingly and willfully without being a member of it”.

The CHP’s parliamentary group held an extraordinary meeting following the news of Berberoglu’s sentence, and CHP deputies also left the general assembly, to later regroup at party headquarters to meet with CHP Chairman Kemal Kilicdaroglu.

Claiming that Berberoglu was sentenced to 25 years in prison “without any evidence,” Kılıcdaroglu said they would “never accept it [the sentence]”.

“We want justice, democracy and freedom of thought in this country,” the chairman said, adding he would join a demonstration at Ankara’s Kizilay Square on Thursday.

“I will be at Guvenpark tomorrow at 11. I will be holding a banner reading ‘justice'”.