Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Ahmet Şık and Ertuğrul Mavioğlu Cleared in One Case

Though Ahmet Şık remains under arrest for alleged, but highly questionable, links to the shadowy Ergenekon gang (see here), an Istanbul court recently acquitted him in a case involving other charges related to a book the journalist wrote with Ertugrul Mavioglu concerning the Ergenekon investigation. From Hurriyet Daily News:
The decision came after the second hearing of the case involving accusations of violation of investigation secrecy based on a two-volume book called “40 Katır 40 Satır: Kontrgerilla ve Ergenekon’u Anlama Rehberi” (Between a Rock and a Hard Place: The Guide to Understanding Counter-guerilla and Ergenekon) and “40 Katır 40 Satır: Ergenekon’da Kim Kimdir?” (Between a Rock and a Hard Place: Who is Who in Ergenekon).

The defense first presented their plea to the court said the accusations involving another Ergenekon suspect Hasan Ataman Yıldırım claims. The lawyers said the subject of the case is irrelevant as an another case has already been filed against the journalists. The two-volume book was published in 2010 and the case was filed immediately afterward with the justification of “violation of secrecy” in the Ergenekon investigation.

Both Şık and Mavioğlu expressed in their defense, “cases are filed against every news story, book regarding Ergenekon,” Şık said their book was not sourced by leaks from police or prosecutor as some journalists said, but careful inspection of open sources. “Our sources do not include CIA, the prime minister or the chief of general staff either,” Mavioğlu added.

Regarding Şık’s lack of presence at the first hearing, the lawyers argued that there is no sufficient explanation given by the officials of the prison during their testimony. The prison where he is being held said in their written statement they did not have enough vehicles for transportation to the Kadıköy courthouse on April 14.

Şık has been under arrest in the scope of the ongoing Ergenekon case since March 6 and was taken to the court between high security measurements taken by the police and gendarmerie as the protests was being held out of the courthouse. The crowd including the press members and Republican People Party, or CHP, party members chanted, “Ahmet will get out of the prison and write again,” and, “There can be no bomb made by a poem or book, prime minister”

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan previously compared Şık’s book draft called “İmamın Ordusu” (The Imam’s Army) to a bomb. The slogan referred to both Erdoğan’s remarks, while reminding the prime minister of the time he served in prison for reading a poem before he was elected to his office.

Journalist Ruşen Çakır, who read a press statement in front of the courthouse, said 68 journalists are behind bars in a country.
For additional reportage from Bianet, click here. The counter to Prime Minister Erdogan's remarks refers to the case brought against the prime minister after he read a famous Islamic poem about mosques becoming minarets. Erdogan's reading of the poem resulted in a temporary ban from politics, after which the AKP rose as Turkey's only significant liberal party. Now the AKP's commitment to liberalism is under serious question.

This is a victory for Şık, who, in this case, was charged with revealing state secrets for publishing a piece in which all the information was public. However, the larger case brought against him in March looms ahead and the journalist remains under arrest.

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