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MP faces life in jail for exposing Turkey’s arms aid to Syria militants

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
Enis Berberoglu, a Turkish lawmaker from the opposition Republican People's Party

A Turkish prosecutor has called for life imprisonment for an opposition lawmaker who is being tried for exposing to a newspaper a video showing weapons shipment to parts of Syria held by foreign-backed terrorists.

In an indictment released on Wednesday, Prosecutor Mehmet Yesilkaya said he sought life term for MP Enis Berberoglu of the opposition Republican People's Party, accusing him of “aiding an armed terrorist organization knowingly and intentionally without being a member.” 

Yesilkaya further accused the lawmaker of purportedly revealing “confidential information and documents of the state… and undertaking political or military espionage.”

Back in May 2015, Cumhuriyet daily posted on its website footage showing Turkish security forces in early 2014 intercepting a convoy of trucks carrying arms for the militants in Syria.

A screen grab from a video published on the website of the Turkish Cumhuriyet daily on May 29, 2015 shows mortar shells in boxes intercepted on a truck destined for Syria.

The paper said the trucks were carrying some 1,000 mortar shells, hundreds of grenade launchers and more than 80,000 rounds of ammunition for light and heavy weapons.

Ankara denied the allegation and claimed that the trucks had been carrying humanitarian aid to Syria. However, Berberoglu defended the video, saying it was genuine.

Two prominent Cumhuriyet journalists were among other defendants in the case. Can Dundar and Erdem Gul were sentenced last year to at least five years in jail for revealing what was said to be state secrets.

The men were acquitted of espionage charges, which could have led to life sentences.

Turkey stands accused of supporting militant groups fighting to topple the Damascus government since March 2011. 

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