A Turkish court on Nov. 23 sentenced journalist Mehmet Baransu to 17 years and one month in prison over an article published in the now-defunct Taraf newspaper on Nov. 28, 2013 titled “Gülen’i Bitirme Kararı 2004’te MGK’da Alındı” (The decision to finish off Gülen was taken by MGK in 2004).
Baransu had written in his article that Turkey's National Security Council (MGK) had taken a decision in 2004 to take down the Gülen network, which Turkish authorities refer to as the Fethullahist Terrorist Organization (FETÖ). The article had alleged that the MGK had suggested to the government to prepare “an action plan” against the Gülen network.
The Turkish government accuses the Gülen network of carrying out the failed coup attempt of July 2016.
The Istanbul Anatolian 2nd Heavy Penal Court found Baran guilty on four different charges on Nov. 23: “securing confidential information related to the security of the state,” “exposing confidential information related to the security of the state," "unauthorized acquisition of documents and information concerning the National Intelligence Agency (MİT)'s duties and operations,” and “disclosing the contents of documents and information concerning the MİT’s duties and operations through the press. ”
Murat Şevki Çoban, Taraf's former responsible editor, was another journalist standing trial in the case. The Istanbul court acquitted Çoban of all charges.
Baransu is known for his reports on the so-called Balyoz and Ergenekon coup plot cases, which courts later found to be based on fabricated evidence.
Baransy was arrested on March 2, 2015 for allegedly "obtaining and publishing" classified state documents in connection with the disclosure of a military document called the “Egemen” (sovereign) Operation Plan.
In July, he was sentenced to a total of 19,5 years in prison, for reporting in 2013 about an alleged customs fraud involving genetically modified rice. At the final hearing in July, he was sentenced to two years for “the violation of privacy,” four years for “disclosing prohibited information” and 13 years and six months for “FETÖ membership.