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Politician gets suspended sentence for classified documents acquisition, acquitted of espionage

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A Turkish court has handed down a suspended sentence of five years to Metin Gürcan, a prominent defense analyst and opposition party co-founder, on charges of acquiring classified information, local media reported on Thursday.

Gürcan, one of the co-founders of the Democracy and Progress Party (DEVA) who was imprisoned on Nov. 9, 2021 and was released pending trial in June 2022, was also acquitted of political and military espionage charges.

The politician was facing a life sentence for “successively disclosing confidential information about state security for purposes of espionage” and up to 35 years in prison for “successively obtaining confidential information for purposes of political or military espionage.”

During the hearing, which was held behind closed doors on grounds of “public security,” Gürcan claimed in his defense that he had provided information to foreign diplomats that he had gathered from open sources.

He added that reports by the Presidency of the Defense Industry (SSB), Interior Ministry, Defense Ministry and the National Intelligence Organization (MİT) previously determined that the contents claimed to contain classified information in the indictment had previously been shared with the public through various channels.

Gürcan requested his acquittal after stating that he had been in custody for seven months during the investigation stage of the case.

The Ankara 26th High Criminal Court on Thursday gave the politician a suspended sentence of five years for “acquiring information that, by its nature, should remain confidential for the sake of state security and political interests.”

Gürcan was also acquitted of charges related to political and military espionage, and the court decided to continue the previously imposed judicial supervision.

In 2021 Gürcan criticized the government’s agreements with the United Arab Emirates, arguing that Turkey would be forced to make concessions in return for investments pledged by the UAE.

Gürcan joined Ali Babacan, a former deputy prime minister in President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s Justice and Development Party (AKP) government, in founding DEVA in March of 2020.

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