Journalists Baransu and Çoban’s trial adjourned until 19 June

6 March 2019

İstanbul - 18th hearing of the case where since shut down Taraf daily’s correspondent Mehmet Baransu and former Managing Editor Murat Şevki Çoban stand trial took place at Anadolu 10th High Criminal Court today. It was ruled that Baransu should be brought before the court for the next hearing, which will take place on 19 June.

Correspondent Mehmet Baransu and former Managing Editor Murat Şevki Çoban face charges of “Obtaining and securing documents relating to State Security,” “Disclosing information that must be kept confidential for reasons relating to the security, or domestic and foreign political interests of the State through press,” and “disclosing documents and information concerning MIT’s (National Intelligence Agency) duties and operations through press” for a news story published in since shut down Taraf daily on 28 November 2013, titled “The Decision to End Gülen was Made at the National Security Council (MGK) in 2004.” The prosecutor had requested each journalist to be punished with up to 52 years in prison.

While Murat Şevki Çoban’s lawyer Figen Albuga Çalıkuşu and lawyer Serhat Karğın, who represents the National Intelligence Agency (MİT) and the National Security Council (MGK) were present in the courtroom, Mehmet Baransu, who is imprisoned within the scope of another case, and his lawyer Yahya Engin did not attend the hearing.

Taking the floor first, Çoban’s lawyer Çalıkuşu said: “Pursuant to the Press Law, the Managing Editor can be deemed responsible only if the author is not specified. Since the concerned news story has a specific author, my client has no responsibility as the Managing Editor. For this reason, I request his acquittal. Furthermore, we repeat the statements in our petition regarding the statute of limitations and the elements of the crime.”

Çalıkuşu further referred to a ruling of the 16th Penal Department of the Court of Cassation, noting that this decision is binding and presented the ruling to the panel of judges.

The complainants’ lawyer Karğın said, “We are of the opinion that this file is dragging and we request the defendants to be sentenced.” The prosecutor noted that he repeats his opinion as to the accusations, which was presented in the previous hearing.

The panel of judges discussed among themselves that Baransu had requested additional time in order to present a defense multiple times but still has not presented a defense regarding the prosecutor’s opinion as to the accusations. It has been observed that Baransu had not attended the hearings due to various excuses and it was ruled that a warrant should be sent to the penitentiary where he is imprisoned to bring him before the court. It was also decided that if Baransu fails to appear before the court again, this will be considered an act to drag the proceeding. The next hearing will take place on 19 June.