Court rejects objection to arrest of CHP deputy Berberoğlu

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CHP deputy Enis Berberoğlu

The İstanbul 15th High Criminal Court on Thursday rejected an objection to the arrest of main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) deputy Enis Berberoğlu filed by his lawyers.

Berberoğlu was arrested on Wednesday immediately after he was handed down a prison sentence of 25 years for leaking information for a report on National Intelligence Organization (MİT) trucks transporting weapons to jihadists in Syria.

He was immediately taken to prison from the courtroom.

The decision for Berberoğlu’s arrest was made by the İstanbul 14th High Criminal Court. Berberoğlu was convicted of revealing state information that was supposed to remain secret for the purpose of political and military spying.

The 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.”

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 the 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 new 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 for Berberoğlu.

The arrest of Berberoğlu, who would normally enjoy parliamentary immunity, was possible because the CHP and Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) had lent support to a proposal submitted by the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) on removing the immunity deputies from prosecution last year.

The immunity of all deputies who face probes was lifted in May 2016. Currently, 11 HDP deputies are in jail on charges of terrorist links.

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