An İstanbul prosecutor is seeking 52 years in prison for a journalist who published classified documents of a 2004 National Security Council (MGK) meeting that brought together the president, the prime minister, Cabinet ministers and top commanders to discuss an action plan against faith-based social movements.
A prompt investigation launched against journalist Mehmet Baransu for reporting on a confidential MGK document that mentioned a planned crackdown on faith-based groups in the country drew bitter condemnation and stern criticism.
The indictment, completed by the Anadolu Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office, pointed out that Baransu’s report published on Nov. 28, 2013 in the Taraf daily exposed state secrets and thus requires severe punishment.
Since November of last year, Taraf has published several confidential documents suggesting that the Justice and Development Party (AK Party) and the National Intelligence Organization (MİT) had been profiling individuals linked to various religious and faith-based groups, mainly the Hizmet (or Gülen) movement inspired and led by Islamic scholar Fethullah Gülen.
The party confirmed the authenticity of the documents but argued that no action was taken to implement the policy prescriptions indicated therein.
In the indictment, the prosecutor’s office said although all content of the Aug. 25, 2004 MGK meeting were required to be kept secret, Baransu covered it on front page of the newspaper, thus openly violating laws that provide a shield of secrecy to MGK meetings and documents. The indictment also implicates Murat Şevki Çoban, who was the managing editor at the time the story was published, for his role in allowing Baransu’s story to be published.