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Jailed journalist Mehmet Baransu has written a letter from prison to his colleagues in which he revealed how his arrest is politically motivated and lacks the necessary legal grounds for his incarceration, while also calling on his colleagues to show solidarity by helping his voice to be heard.
Baransu, an outspoken government critic who used to work for the Taraf daily before his arrest, was put behind bars on March 2 over charges of releasing classified documents.
The journalist was arrested over documents that he submitted to prosecutors in 2010, prompting a major coup trial known as andquotSledgehammerand” (Balyoz) that implicated top military brass.
Baransu is actually facing more than 50 court cases which are seeking a total sentence of 1,000 years in prison. The cases filed against him include, in addition to the release of the Sledgehammer documents, the release of a National Security Council (MGK) document dated 2004 showing the Justice and Development Partyand’s (AK Party) signing of a document that calls for the fight against the faith-based Gandulen movement, his release of National Intelligence Organization (MiT) documents that showed MiTand’s profiling of senior Republican Peopleand’s Party (CHP) and Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) officials, and publishing reports about genetically modified rice in Taraf in 2013.
andquotThere are so many cases filed against me. Believe me, I donand’t know which one to write about. The only thing that consoles me is that all of these cases concern merely journalistic activities,andquot Baransu wrote in his letter.
The journalist said that at the time, even AK Party officials admitted the militaryand’s coup plans against itself with Sledgehammer, although they later changed their mind and began to describe the coup trials as a andquotconspiracy against the national army.andquot
The AK Party government changed its mind about the coup trials after a major corruption probe became public in December 2013 and in which senior members of the government were implicated. The partyand’s change of mind has been seen as an attempt to win the support of the opponents of these trials.
Baransu acknowledged that mistakes might have been made during the trial of the suspects in the Sledgehammer case and he welcomed the courtand’s decision for a retrial, hoping that those who were really involved in the coup plans would be punished, but the court decided to acquit all the suspects.
Recalling the challenge of the court decision for the acquittal of the suspects by the Anatolia Chief Public Prosecutorand’s Office, he said the prosecutorand’s office has demanded the punishment of seven suspects, including retired Gen. andcetin Dogan, who was the prime suspect in the trial, on the grounds that they plotted to overthrow the government.
andquotThe dossier has been sent to the Supreme Court of Appeals. Even the new HSYK [Supreme Board of Judges and Prosecutors] that was formed by the government and the prosecutors appointed by it think Sledgehammer is a coup plot, hence they appealed the courtand’s ruling while I was placed in prison just for writing about this coup plan,andquot Baransu said in his letter.
The journalist also explained the lack of legal grounds for his trial due to the two articles in which he wrote about genetically modified rice that was discovered in Mersin in April 2013 — although it is illegal to market such food in Turkey. In the news reports, Baransu wrote that the investigation into the incident would be closed on the grounds that a pro-AK Party businessman was involved.
Baransu said the Mersin 5th High Criminal Court handed down prison sentences of up to seven years to some of the people who were involved in the import of the genetically modified rice to Turkey.
As part of this trial, he is facing charges of staging a coup against the Turkish government.
andquotI am accused of attempting to stage a coup with carcinogenic rice. The prosecutorand’s claim is in the indictment: and’Baransu wrote a report about carcinogenic genetically modified rice the world press would see his report and use it. The world press would create the image that the government is protecting businessmen close to itself. Being weary of the pressure, the government would resign and a coup would take placeand’.andquot
The journalist described this accusation as simply andquotridiculous.andquot
andquotI say we will neither leave this country to thieves nor to civilian-military coup makers, even if I am in a prison cell and face 1,000 years in jail. I just want my voice to be heard,andquot Baransu wrote, adding that he expects to see his colleagues and their support on the days of his court hearings.


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