Turkey asks life sentence for man who exposed intelligence's 2014 arms delivery to Syria

A Turkish prosecutor has demanded an aggravated life sentence for a high school teacher who in December 2014 informed gendarmerie of Syria-bound trucks carrying weapons, broadcaster CNN-Türk reported on Sunday.

Four trucks were searched in the southern province of Adana in raids by police and gendarmerie, one in November 2013 and the three others in January 2014, on the orders of prosecutors acting on tip-offs that they were carrying weapons.

While the first truck was seized, the three others were allowed to continue their journey after Turkey's intelligence agency MIT officials accompanying the cargo threatened police and physically resisted the search. The search of the first truck exposed a large number of munitions under a thin layer of medical supplies.

Turkish authorities on May 5, 2016, issued a warrant for denouncer Mustafa Ilhan, who had been on the run for three years until he was detained in the northern city of Ordu last week, the daily said. Ilhan was accused of treason, espionage and "attempting to abolish constitutional order".

A chief public prosecutor in Istanbul demanded aggravated life imprisonment for him, it said.

The incident involving the trucks received international attention in May 2015 when the opposition Cumhuriyet newspaper released footage showing the inspection. The MIT trucks had been carrying over 80,000 rounds of ammunition of various calibres, some 1,000 mortar shells and hundreds of grenade launchers projectiles, the newspaper reported.

The discovery of weapons led only to arrests of the officials involved in the search of the vehicles. Following the Cumhuriyet report, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan confirmed that the trucks belonged to MIT but were merely carrying “humanitarian aid to Turkmens in Syria”. He said the prosecutors had no authority to search the vehicles and accused them of “treason and espionage” and being part of Gülen Movement, an Islamist network led by U.S. based cleric Fethullah Gülen that Turkey blames for orchestrating a coup attempt in 2016.

Two prosecutors who ordered three trucks to be searched and more than 30 gendarmerie officers were detained on the orders of state prosecutors in the aftermath of the incident.