Turkey’s Jailing of Lawmaker for Espionage Renews Dissent Claims


An Istanbul court sentenced a lawmaker from Turkey’s biggest opposition party to 25 years in jail for revealing state secrets, prompting renewed accusations that the government is stepping up attempts to silence dissent.

Enis Berberoglu was placed under arrest at the court after his prison term was handed down, state news agency Anadolu reported. He had been charged with supplying journalists with images which allegedly showed Turkey’s intelligence agency shipping weapons to Syria. The publication of the photographs outraged President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who said the vehicles were moving aid.

Berberoglu became the first member of the Republican People’s Party CHP to be jailed while serving in parliament. Several members of pro-Kurdish HDP have been imprisoned, mostly on terrorism-related charges. All the arrests took place under the emergency rule that Turkey declared in the wake of last year’s failed military coup.

Authorities have suspended or fired nearly 150,000 people, including thousands of police officers, for links to the exiled cleric whom Turkey accuses of orchestrating the coup attempt. The purge has soured Turkey’s relations with its Western allies.

Erdogan has in the past called for the punishment of top editors at the newspaper that originally published the truck images.

The CHP called on its lawmakers to hold an extraordinary meeting at parliament. The court decision is part of the ruling AK Party’s efforts to marginalize opposition to its policies through fear, party lawmaker Engin Altay said in televised remarks outside the court.

“Efforts by the AKP to create a horror empire through the politicization of the judiciary are futile,” he said.

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