Turkish politician appears in court accused of selling state secrets to foreigners

Metin Gürcan, a founder of Turkey’s opposition Democracy and Progress Party (DEVA) and a military analyst, appeared in court charged with “political and military espionage” for allegedly selling state secrets to foreign diplomats.

The court in Ankara ruled for Gürcan’s continued detention on Wednesday at the first hearing of his trial, Sözcü newspaper reported. It also decided to hold the trial behind closed doors on grounds that some of the accusations levelled at Gürcan in the indictment were “state secrets”, it said.

Gürcan, a former member of the Turkish Armed Forces, was detained during a police raid at his home in Istanbul on Nov. 26 on the orders of the prosecutors’ office. Three days later, a judge ordered that he be kept in custody on charges of “obtaining and disclosing the state's confidential information for political or espionage purposes".

The prosecution has demanded life imprisonment and 35 years.

Gürcan denied the accusations in his testimony before the court on Wednesday and requested that the trial be held in open hearings, Sözcü said. He said he obtained the information detailed by prosecutors from open sources and that he wanted to present it to the public transparently. Gürcan also demanded his release pending trial. The court rejected both requests.

Gürcan is a prominent defence analyst and regular columnist for news outlet Al-Monitor, writing about developments in the military. He is not the first prominent person in Turkey to be charged with spying. Osman Kavala, a philanthropist and businessman, has been jailed since 2017 without conviction accused of espionage and seeking to overthrow the government.

Ali Babacan, a former deputy prime minister in President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s government, founded DEVA in 2020 with Gürcan and almost 100 other people including former ministers and lawmakers.

 

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