Deputy PM threatens Taraf daily, Baransu for covering controversial MGK docs

Deputy Prime Minister of Turkey Mr. Bulent Arinc
Deputy Prime Minister of Turkey Mr. Bulent Arinc

Date posted: December 4, 2013


Deputy Prime Minister Bülent Arınç on Monday called on prosecutors to take legal action against the Taraf daily and journalist Mehmet Baransu, who last week revealed a controversial National Security Council (MGK) document indicating that Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party) signed on to a planned crackdown on the Hizmet (Gülen) movement in 2004.

The two-page document was signed by Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, then-Foreign Minister Abdullah Gül, then-President Ahmet Necdet Sezer, Cabinet members, Chief of General Staff Gen. Hilmi Özkök, Land Forces Commander Aytaç Yalman, Naval Forces Commander Adm. Özden Örnek, Air Forces Commander Gen. İbrahim Fırtına and Gen. Şener Eruygur.

Speaking to reporters following a Cabinet meeting, Arınç said the MGK documents are confidential and that it is not legally acceptable and publish them.

“Somebody got a copy of MGK decision No. 481 dated Aug. 25, 2004, and published it. According to the Turkish Penal Code [TCK], National Intelligence Organization [MİT] law, press law and the Radio and Television Supreme Council [RTÜK] law, publishing information that is confidential requires punishment. The person who has done this may face punitive measures. Let our prosecutors think about this,” said Arınç.

Concerning whether the controversial MGK decision was put into action, he said it has never been put into action and was treated as null and void.

The document asked the government to develop an action plan to pursue the MGK’s recommendations and instructed the Prime Ministry Implementation and Monitoring Coordination Council (BUTKK) to coordinate the ministries and monitor whether the steps were being implemented.

The MGK decision urges the Foreign Ministry, Interior Ministry and National Intelligence Organization (MİT) to closely monitor and report on the activities of the Gülen movement at home and abroad. It advises the government to instruct the Interior Ministry and Ministry of Education to investigate and monitor schools affiliated with the Gülen movement and report their activities to the BTK.

“MGK decisions are advisory and they are not binding,” Arınç said in further remarks.

Meanwhile, Republican People’s Party (CHP) deputy chairman Sezgin Tanrıkulu on Tuesday criticized Deputy Prime Minister Arınç over his remarks about Taraf and journalist Baransu.

Releasing a written statement, he said when the government has a responsibility to maintain transparency in its affairs, it cannot refer press organizations, columnists or journalists who perform their duties to prosecutors.

He said Arınç’s referral of Baransu to prosecutors shows how problematic his understanding of  freedom of the press is.

Baransu: I am not afraid of threats

In remarks to Today’s Zaman, journalist Baransu said it is impossible for him to be afraid and take a step back from what he is doing due to the threatening statements of the deputy prime minister.

“I am just doing my job,” he said.

According to Baransu, what the government should do is to see which documents they put their signatures on, hence what crimes they have committed rather than threatening journalists.

He said he had received similar threats from the members of Ergenekon, a shadowy crime network that has links within the state and plotted to topple the government, and top military commanders such as Gen. Yaşar Büyükanıt and Gen. İlker Başbuğ and he was even prosecuted but still was not scared by their threats.

Baransu and Taraf have frequently become the targets of the Turkish military for exposing coup plots and controversial military action plans over the past years that resulted in the imprisonment of dozens of active duty and retired military members including former Chief of General Staff Gen. Başbuğ.

The journalist said it is very common for those holding state power in their hands to try to exercise this power in order to protect themselves, but he said he thinks it is a shameful act to try to frighten a journalist with such threats.

Source: Today's Zaman , December 3, 2013

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