A regional court of justice on Monday overturned an İstanbul 14th High Criminal Court decision made on June 14 handing down a prison sentence of 25 years to main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) deputy Enis Berberoğlu over a report on National Intelligence Organization (MİT) trucks transporting weapons to rebels in Syria, Cumhuriyet reported.
According to Cumhuriyet, Berberoğlu will be retried.
Murat Ergün, lawyer for Berberoğlu, tweeted that he will object to Berberoğlu’s pretrial detention in accordance with new ruling of the regional court.
The İstanbul 14th High Criminal Court initially handed down a life sentence to Berberoğlu, but it was later reduced to 25 years “in consideration of the sentence’s possible effects on the future of the convicted.” Berberoğlu was convicted of “revealing state information that was supposed to remain secret for the purpose of political and military spying.”
“The verdict against CHP MP Enis Berberoğlu is shocking and is an example of the current flawed rule of law in Turkey; a well respected, democratically elected parliamentarian can get a 25-year-long prison sentence without a fair trial,” said Kati Piri, the European Parliament’s rapporteur for Turkey, in June in a written statement.
When the MİT truck story first broke in 2015, it produced a political firestorm in Turkey about the role of the Turkish spy agency in arming rebel factions in Syria and prompted an investigation into Cumhuriyet daily journalists Can Dündar and Erdem Gül, who published the report.
They were first jailed while facing trial on spy charges for publishing footage purporting to show MİT transporting weapons to Syria in 2014. Later, the two journalists were released pending trial.
When Dündar later published a book titled “We Are Arrested,” he mapped out the details of the news story on May 27, 2015, saying that a leftist lawmaker brought the information to him. Upon that revelation, the İstanbul Public Prosecutor’s Office launched a new investigation and examined Dündar’s phone calls during the days leading up to the publication of the story.
The prosecutor’s office detected a phone conversation between CHP deputy Berberoğlu and Dündar on May 27.
A new indictment was drafted naming Berberoğlu.
In September 2016, an İstanbul court decided to merge the trial of journalists Dündar and Gül with that of Berberoğlu.
In order to protest the court decision, main opposition CHP leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu launched a “March of Justice” on June 15 in Ankara which ended at Maltepe Prison in İstanbul, where Berberoğlu is jailed.