Turkish opposition politician jailed for 25 years on spying charges | World news

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A Turkish court has sentenced the opposition Republican People’s party (CHP) lawmaker Enis Berberoğlu to 25 years in prison over spying charges.

Berberoğlu, the first CHP lawmaker to be handed prison time since the lifting of parliamentary immunities last year, was accused of providing an opposition newspaper with video purporting to show Turkey’s intelligence agency trucking weapons into Syria.

A report in the secular Cumhuriyet newspaper in May 2015 said trucks allegedly owned by Turkey’s state intelligence service had been found to contain weapons and ammunition that were headed for Syria when they were stopped and searched in southern Turkey in early 2014.

The government has denied accusations that weapons were sent to Syria, saying the trucks were carrying humanitarian aid.

Engin Altay, a deputy chairman for the CHP, said Wednesday’s decision was aimed at intimidating those who opposed the ruling AK party.

“This decision is intimidation to the opposition. This decision is intimidation to all who are displeased with the AKP,” Altay told reporters outside the Çağlayan justice palace in Istanbul.

He said it a sign that the judiciary in Turkey was under the command of government executive organs.

Following Cumhuriyet’s report in 2015, the president, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, acknowledged that the trucks belonged to the National Intelligence Organisation (MIT), and said they were carrying aid to Turkmen fighting both the Syrian president, Bashar al-Assad, and Islamic State.

He has accused Cumhuriyet’s journalists, including its then editor-in-chief, Can Dündar, and Ankara bureau chief, Erdem Gül, of undermining Turkey’s international reputation and vowed Dündar would “pay a heavy price”, raising opposition concerns about the fairness of any trial.

Last year, Dündar and Gül were sentenced to at least five years in jail for revealing state secrets in a related case, and the prosecutor is now seeking an additional 10 years in prison for the two over the report on the trucks.

Rights groups and Turkey’s western allies have been unnerved by deteriorating human rights under Erdoğan, and a crackdown following last July’s failed coup that has seen 50,000 people arrested and some 150,000 detained or dismissed from various fields.



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