Baransu starts defending himself after two years

2 November 2018

Canan Coşkun, İstanbul - Hearing of journalist Mehmet Baransu, also known as ‘Conspiracy in Balyoz trial’ was held at İstanbul 13. High Criminal Court, on 1-2 November. Court ruled to keep Mehmet Baransu in detention, who has been imprisoned for 3 years and 8 months and adjourned the hearing until 3-4 January 2019.

Baransu who is the only defendant in pre-trial detention in the case, was arrested in March 2015, charged with ‘possessing secret state documents in relation to national security’, along with Yasemin Çongar, Ahmet Altan, Yıldıray Oğur and Tuncay Opçin. Lawyers of Altan, Çongar, and Oğur were present in the hearing, as well as Baransu and his lawyers. The presiding judge requested Baransu to complete his defense statements in the following two days, to which Baransu responded that his statement would only be completed during the next hearing and started submitting his defense for the first time, after two years the case was initiated on 2 September 2016. The hearing was monitored by a representative from Article 19, along with less than ten people.

Baransu and Republican People’s Party (CHP) MP and Balyoz victim Dursun Çiçek argued several times during Baransu’s defense. Baransu, “The intervenors claim that I am lying. I could tell them, but they won’t let me bring my book from prison, which is presented as evidence against me.” After Çiçek claimed that Baransu was ‘full of lies’ the presiding judge made a warning and requested silence from the intervening party.

No request of release

The court asked Baransu whether he requested release, he responded, “I do not make any requests regarding my detention. This resembles me of a theatre. I will be released from prison on God’s will.” The Court decided to keep Baransu in prison, granting him extra time to complete his statement for the last time, and adjourned the hearing until 3-4 January 2019.

Baransu’s defense

Baransu started defending himself by explaining how he received the documents regarding the Balyoz investigation in the first place.

“I did not stop by the newspaper very frequently. The famous 4 CDs arrived on the day that I went there for the hospital expenses. The luggage was given to me 9-10 days after. Someone approached me and told me he wanted to meet me when I went to a cafe to get coffee, near the paper. I think he knew my everyday habits. I did not know him. He had told me he was retired. He told me about the coup olan. After we published the story, Erdoğan and Abdullah Gül made statements, saying that they were already aware of the plans. Who gave the Balyoz seminar casette to them? I wasn’t unfamiliar with the plan because everyone knew that Çetin Doğan was planning a coup in 2003. Nokta magazine had published journals in 2007. Mustafa Balbay was arrested and his journals were seized. Balbay, İlhan Selçuk, İbrahim Yıldız had met with the then Head of National Intelligence Organization (MİT) Şenkal Atasagun and noted that they were ready for a coup.”

“I handed the CDs over”

“There were so many debates after we ran the story. I heard that 10-15 people went to the Courthouse in Beşiktaş and filed a criminal complaint, among them was Yıldıray Oğur’s elder brother. Turan Çolakkadı asked me to hand over anything we had. I delivered the CDs. We did not see the war plan in the CDs. I am accused of distorting the Egemen Action Plan, which I had never seen. I do not know what I distorted.”

“A copy of 15 July”

“Çetin Doğan’s coup plan was an exact copy of 15 July. They seem to have copied the ready-made plan and executed it. Çetin Doğan was sentenced to life in prison in the 28 February trial, he was oen of the most active names of the West Study Group. I was one of the people that fought against 28 February. Nobody can instruct me, I am that type of a journalist.”

“I heard about the operation from Soylu”

“After I get out of here, I want to go live with people who prepared the Balyoz plan, I will stand alone against all of them. (…) Yıldıray Oğur had requested some of these documents from me to do research for his doctoral thesis, now he is defaming me.

(…) If I had the experience I have today, I would’ve remained more distant from Balyoz. I heard that an operation was going to be initiated against me, from a friend of mine who had heard it from Süleyman Soylu. I participated in the ‘Rigged game’ trial just to make Aziz Yıldırım happy.”