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Turkish opposition leader convicted of documenting arms trafficking to Syria

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Istanbul (AsiaNews / Agencies) – A court in Istanbul yesterday sentenced a member of the Republican People’s Party (CHP) to five years and 10 months in prison. The judges found him guilty of leaking classified material to a daily critical of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan..

Last June Enis Berberoglu, one of the Chp’s most prominent personalities, had been sentenced to 25 years in prison; however, a regional court of appeal in Istanbul had overturned the sentence and, in October, ordered the repetition of the trial.

According to the official Turkish news agency Anadolu, he had ended up at the bar for “leaking information” that “should have remained classified, for the sake of state security”.

The controversial story of Berberoglu dates back to 2015, with the publication by the newspaper Cumhuriyet (close to the opposition and repeatedly subjected to government attacks since the failed coup in July 2016) of compromising photos. The images showed elements of Turkish intelligence intent on transporting weapons across the border, in Syria.

The Chp parliamentarian passed the images to the former director of Cumhuriyet Can Dundar, who fled the country seeking refuge in Germany, after receiving a sentence of five years and 10 months in prison.

The Chp deputy has been in jail since last June. To date, he is the first and only parliamentarian of the main secular opposition party who has been imprisoned and condemned following the attempted coup, in which Erdogan’s power wavered for several hours.

The indictment of Berberoglu had led the Chp leader Kemal Kilicdaroglu to promote a protest march from Ankara to Istanbul, which gathered thousands of people. A walk that represented the highest point of the opposition protest against the government since the 2013 demonstrations against President Erdogan.

Since the coup attempt against the government and its leader, the Turkish authorities have arrested tens of thousands of people in the context of a massive repression campaign. The government crackdown has targeted journalists, intellectuals, professors, soldiers, public officials or judges; doctors, athletes, entrepreneurs and even ordinary citizens. The often specious accusations include affiliation to Kurdish “terrorist” groups or membership of the movement that belongs to the Islamic preacher Fethullah Gülen, in exile in Pennsylvania (United States).

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