Mehmet Baransu, a former correspondent for the now-defunct Taraf newspaper, was arrested in March 2015 for procuring and publishing secret state documents in connection with the disclosure of a war plan called the Egemen (Sovereign) Operation Plan.
Baransu is charged with “Possession of documents classified as state secret,” “Exposing classified information crucial to state security and interests,” and “Damaging, procuring or stealing documents concerning the security of the state or using said documents outside their intended purpose” in the indictment for this case, overseen by the Istanbul 13th High Criminal Court.
It is one of dozens of ongoing cases against Baransu, who has perhaps been in prison longer than any of the currently imprisoned journalists in Turkey.
On December 4, 2017, the sixth hearing in the trial of former Taraf executives for “disclosing state secrets through publishing confidential documents” was heard by the Istanbul 13th High Criminal Court. The only jailed defendant in the case is Baransu, whose lawyer had resigned. A new lawyer was appointed for him by the state.
Former Taraf Editor-in-Chief Ahmet Altan, former Executive Editor of the same newspaper Yasemin Çongar and Managing Editor Yıldıray Oğur are also defendants in the case, facing up to 52 years and six months in prison for “destroying, using outside the intended purpose of, and illegally acquiring documents related to the security of the state.” Another defendant, Tuncay Opçin, remains at large.
The eighth hearing of that case was held on 2-4 May at the 13th High Criminal Court of Istanbul.
Baransu continued his defense statement at the hearing.
The court announced its interim ruling at the end of the three-day hearing, ordering the continuation of Baransu’s pretrial detention, and accepting requests from five ex-military officials to join the case as co-plaintiffs.
The court set 7-9 August as the date for the next hearing.
Baransu is also jailed pending trial in a separate case which concerns his reporting in 2013 on an alleged customs fraud involving genetically modified rice. The indictment accuses Baransu of “attempting to overthrow the government” and “membership in a terrorist organization.”
Baransu is still in detention on remand in Silivri Prison in Istanbul, facing nearly a thousand years in jail as part of tens of different cases.