EMRE – Fear of corruption revelations pushed Baransu behind bars

Fear of corruption revelations pushed Baransu behind barsItand#39s now been 11 days since journalist Mehmet Baransu was arrested. The government and its media outlets are so hopeless when it comes to Baransu that they have turned to inventing and manipulating evidence in a bid to keep him behind bars.

Observers familiar with Turkey already know — and have publicly affirmed — that his arrest was clearly nothing other than a move meant to scare the final group of opposition journalists left operating in the country. For those Westerners who are not close observers of Turkey — and for those Justice and Development Party (AKP) supporters who view the world though partisan glasses — let me try to explain the Baransu situation through a series of questions.

1 Via his striking articles published in the Taraf daily newspaper, Baransu actually altered the course of history in Turkey. In fact, it was Baransu who signed off on the most critical news pieces solidifying the retraction of military power and the entrance of civilian power (which we could, of course, now call andldquocivilian dictatorshipandrdquo).

This being the case, Baransu attracted plenty of hatred from anti-AKP forces in and outside of the military.After the military was successfully pushed back into its barracks, Taraf continued with its opposition, attracting the wrath of the AKP civilian government, which tried to take control of the newspaper in response to its insistence on publishing revealing news pieces about corruption.

Around this time, there was a lot of talk about a government operation against Taraf via journalists working there who had close relations with some officials in the National Intelligence Organization (MIT). The owner of Taraf was in the end able to squelch this round of the governmentand#39s operation.

Then the government made its next move, successfully tearing a handful of journalists away from the paper (journalists with whom it had struck agreements to work on hollowing out the real content of the newspaper), instead employing them at pro-government media outlets. Nowadays, these journalists appear regularly on TV, speaking in the name of the government.

During all of this, Baransu did what any real journalist ought to do — he spoke with all sides involved and came to the conclusion that the government operation was actually aimed at destroying the newspaper He thus refused to leave Taraf. The fact that influential journalists like Baransu and Murat Belge refused to abandon this paper prevented the government from achieving its aim, which was, of course, simply to silence the paper So then let us ask at this juncture: Do you think that Baransu, had he chosen to take the governmentand#39s side during its anti-Taraf operation or had departed he from Taraf like the other journalists mentioned, would have been arrested?The answer to this question is quite clear: No.

Because we see today that journalists YIldIray OIur and KurtuluI Tayiz, who also signed off on news that Baransu worked on, are not only growing fat on their new big salaries, but are also writing articles filled with content about how Baransu was andldquonot arrested due to his journalismandrdquo Sorry, but if you have three journalists, all of whom worked on the same story, but the two who took the side of the government are making the rounds and picking up huge salaries while the other is behind bars, then the third has clearly been arrested on the basis of his or her opposition stance.2 Testimony offered by Ergin Saygun, a witness in the Sledgehammer (Balyoz)oup case, was influential in Baransuand#39s arrest.

Saygun was one of the officers involved in the anti-government simulations (envisioning the overthrow of the AKP government) that took place at the Hudson Institute. Recently, there has been a lot of talk about the renewed relations between the AKP government and figures from the Ergenekon structure as a result of the governmentand#39s war against the Gulen movement.

Which brings about this inevitable question: Was the arrest of Baransu a condition set forth in some new agreement between the Ergenekon structure and the AKP? Was it some part of a promise made by the AKP to figures from Ergenekon?3. The official reason behind Baransuand#39s arrest is that he procured and published secret documents belonging to the military.

As readers may recall, there was a recent increase in the amount of prison time to be handed down to those publishing secret MIT documents, which now means that many newspapers refrain from publishing documents related to the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) or al-Qaeda But the reality is that many wings of the government turn out documents and some of these documents inevitably make their way into newspapers. And so the government achieves its aim of quieting down other newspapers, but arrests Baransu on the basis of his possession of secret documents.

And so herein lies the question: When you have a country where a journalist can be arrested for having and publishing documents deemed by some to be andldquosecret,andrdquo can real journalism even exist in that country?4. It is quite clear that the government is afraid of not only Baransuand#39s courage but the documents he published.

As it was, there had already been talk in government circles of the damage Baransu was capable of doing to them At the same time, itand#39s widely known that the very last thing a government already hampered by allegations of corruption would have wanted to encounter on the path to general elections would be the release of new documents revealing more corruption. At which point, the critical question becomes: Was Baransu arrested as a precaution deemed necessary in the run-up to the elections?Another fairly obvious question: Is it possible that the raid on Baransuand#39s home was actually carried out in an attempt to find documents that might be linked with corruption and illegalities connected to the AKP?I believe the answers to the above questions are all clear and that the AKP has acted largely out of fears related to the elections.

Yes, the AKP government is so ridden with corruption that it has had to turn to silencing journalists to protect itself and so this is what they are doing. This being the case, the most likely scenario is that Baransu will remain behind bars until the elections are over.

SOURCE: Today’s Zaman