THE TRIAL of two Turkish journalists who exposed government aid to Syrian extremists was postponed yesterday after MPs occupied the court in protest.
The first hearing in the trial of Can Dundar, editor in chief of the Kemalist-aligned Cumhurriyet daily, and the newspaper’s Ankara correspondant Erdem Gul was adjourned after opposition MPs refused to leave the room in defiance of a ruling, in response to a prosecution request, that the case be heard behind closed doors.
The Dogan news agency said the court had also accepted a petition for President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and the National Intelligence Organisation (MIT) to be recognised as plaintiffs in the case.
The pair were arrested and jailed on remand late last November after they published photos backing up earlier reports that the MIT had been caught smuggling lorryloads of arms, disguised as humanitarian aid, to insurgents in Syria.
Border guards who discovered the arms shipment were arrested for doing their duty.
Then prime minister Mr Erdogan tried to suppress reports of the incident, claiming the shipments were a state secret.
The two journalists were freed from Silivri prison in Istanbul on February 26 after the Constitutional Court ruled that their detention violated their rights to liberty and freedom of expression.
However, they still face charges of espionage and aiding the banned Hizmet movement of exiled preacher Fethullah Gulen, a former ally of Mr Erdogan.
Mr Dundar and Mr Gul’s detention and trial are part of a broader crackdown on the media by Nato member Turkey, which also aspires to join the European Union.
On Thursday, Russia Today reporters said they had found evidence of Turkey’s covert dealings with Islamic State (Isis) in the recently liberated Syrian town of as-Shadadi.
A documentary team found ledgers and invoices relating to the oil trade run by Isis from the town conquered by the Kurdish YPG militia 10 days earlier.
One Isis militant captured in the battle revealed: “They are also providing Isis with food and other goods. Isis are also provided with money, weapons and ammunition.”
Another militant said: “Turkey and Isis have a common enemy — YPG units.”