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July 7th People's Independent Inquiry Forum > Middle & Near East Watch > Turkey: 30 arrested over nationalist "coup plot"

Title: Turkey: 30 arrested over nationalist "coup plot"
Description: plotters operate inside the "deep state"

The Antagonist - January 12, 2009 03:33 AM (GMT)
Page last updated at 16:00 GMT, Wednesday, 7 January 2009
Turkey holds 30 over 'coup plot'
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Prosecutors say the plotters operate inside the "deep state"

More than 30 people have been detained in Turkey in a widening inquiry into an alleged coup plot.

Those arrested reportedly included three retired generals and a former police chief.

Some 86 people are already accused of an ultra-nationalist plot to stoke unrest that would provoke the army to launch a coup.

Critics say the ruling AK Party is simply arresting some of its most prominent secular opponents.

Wednesday's police operation involved simultaneous raids in six provinces, the Turkish state news agency Anatolia said.

A court in Istanbul also ordered searches of the suspects' homes and workplaces, it said.

A larger group of suspects, who include retired military officers, politicians, academics and journalists, went on trial in October, accused of being part of a shadowy group known as Ergenekon.

The 2,455-page indictment holds the group responsible for at least two violent attacks - the bombing of a secularist newspaper in 2006 and an attack on a court in the same year, in which a judge was killed.

Attacks on those key parts of the secular establishment were supposed to provoke Turkey's military into launching a coup in defence of secular interests, it is alleged.

The suspects deny the charges, saying they are politically motivated.

Bridget - February 23, 2010 07:45 PM (GMT)
Arrest of top-brass generals deepens Turkey power struggle

By Nicolas Cheviron, Agence France-Presse
February 23, 2010 11:03 AM

Retired general Ozer Karabulut arrives at a courthouse in Istanbul Feb. 23, 2010. Turkish police on Tuesday questioned military officers detained a day earlier and others were brought to court over an alleged plot to bring down the Islamist-rooted government, broadcasters said.

Retired general Ozer Karabulut arrives at a courthouse in Istanbul Feb. 23, 2010. Turkish police on Tuesday questioned military officers detained a day earlier and others were brought to court over an alleged plot to bring down the Islamist-rooted government, broadcasters said.

ISTANBUL - The arrest of dozens of high-ranking military figures in Turkey over an alleged coup plan dating back seven years marks the latest episode of a power struggle between the Islamist-rooted government and the army, the bastion of the secular order, analysts said Tuesday.

In a massive swoop, anti-terror police Monday detained more than 40 people, including the former air force and navy chiefs, over a purported plan drawn up in 2003 to oust the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP).

Until recently, such tough action was inconceivable against the military which has toppled four governments in 50 years and exercised significant clout in politics.

But recent reforms to align the country with the European Union, spearheaded by the AKP government, has reduced the influence of the once-mighty military.

Monday's arrests constitute a "breaking point" in Turkish political history, said the liberal Taraf daily which exposed the alleged coup plan code-named "Operation Sledgehammer" last month.

"The republic is now changing. The era of 'dictatorships' is coming to an end. The coup plotters are being arrested and brought to justice," wrote the newspaper's editor-in-chief Ahmet Altan.

According to Taraf, "Operation Sledgehammer" called for the bombing of two mosques in Istanbul at prayer time and organizing attacks by soldiers disguised as Islamists against symbols of secularism.

The coup planners also allegedly plotted to escalate tensions with Greece to secure the downing of a Turkish plane in a dog-fight with Greek jets over the Aegean with the ultimate aim of showing the government as inept and justifying a military takeover.

The army has denied the exisence of "Operation Sledgehammer" and complained of a "smear campaign" amid a string of similar plots for a military takeover carried by the pro-government media.

Dozens of former officers, among them two retired generals, are already on trial over the so-called Ergenekon network, an alleged secularist-nationalist group accused of planning to foment unrest to pave the way for a military coup.

The probe was initially hailed as a success, but has since come under doubt with some suspects accusing police of fabricating evidence.

Government critics claim the coup allegations are a bid by the AKP to cripple the army and remove a major obstacle to a hidden agenda of transforming Turkey into an Islamic state.

Hugh Pope, a senior analyst specialising on Turkey at the International Crisis Group, expressed doubt there was a "witch hunt" against the army.

"Clearly, the judiciary is extremely serious and they would certainly not have taken so many high-profile people into custody unless they had an absolute certainty in their mind that this is a real case," he said.

Pope acknowledged there was "uncomfortable evidence" of abuses in the judicial process against the alleged coup plotters, but underlined the investigation also represented "a process by which Turkey is establishing the supremacy of civilian authority" over military power.

Alexandre Toumarkine, a political scientist from the French Institute of Anatolia Studies, said the possibility of some limited form of military intervention in EU-candidate Turkey in the 21st-century was not pure fiction.

"The image of tanks in the streets carries such a heavy political cost that such a hypothesis is probably unthinkable," he said.

Nevertheless, plans of more discreet military intervention aimed at "restructuring the political system in depth" have "germinated in the minds of quite a few people," he added.

"We have the impression that they have reached such a level (of antagonism) that the army either accepts to withdraw from the political area or continues to prepare the destabilization of the current government to compel it to leave the scene."

Bridget - February 26, 2010 08:20 PM (GMT)
Page last updated at 14:30 GMT, Friday, 26 February 2010

Fresh detentions over Turkey military coup 'plot'

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Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan (L) talks to his deputy Bulent Arinc in parliament, Ankara, 25 February 2010

Recep Tayyip Erdogan (left) said conspirators "won't get away with it"

Turkish authorities have detained a further 18 people over an alleged plot to create chaos and trigger a military coup, local media say.

The suspects, 17 of whom are military officers on active duty, were rounded up in a nationwide operation, CNN-Turk and Haber-Turk TV channels said.

Another 49 officers were detained on Monday, 31 of whom have been charged.

The case has increased tension between Turkey's military and its Islamist-rooted ruling party.

News of the arrests came shortly after Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan vowed that any conspirators would face justice.

'Power struggle'

"No-one is above the law, no-one has impunity," he told a gathering of his Justice and Development Party (AKP).
Jonathan Head, BBC News, Istanbul

After a week of high drama at the state security court in Istanbul, the judges have almost completed their assessment of the 49 military suspects detained on Monday.

Thirty-one officers, among them seven navy admirals and four army generals, have been charged with conspiring to provoke a military takeover in the months following the AKP's first election victory in 2002.

That makes this the most ambitious attempt yet to prosecute armed forces personnel in civilian courts. Three other officers, including the general who allegedly masterminded the plot, are still being questioned.

For the once untouchable military the week's events will have been a humbling experience. But it could have been worse; last night the three most senior officers among the 49 were released.

Plot thickens in Turkey 'coup plan'
Press fears 'coup plot' tensions

"Those conspiring behind closed doors to trample on the nation's will from now on find themselves facing justice," Mr Erdogan said.

"They should know that they won't get away with it."

The 31 officers charged this week, who include seven navy admirals and four army generals, are accused of conspiring to provoke a military takeover in the months following the AKP's first election victory in 2002.

The case is widely seen as the latest stage in an ongoing power struggle between Turkey's secular nationalist establishment and the governing AKP.

Turkey's military has overthrown or forced the resignation of four governments since 1960 - most recently in 1997 - though the current head of the armed forces has insisted that coups are a thing of the past.

Also on Friday, several suspects were taken to court for questioning, including Gen Cetin Dogan, the former head of Turkey's First Army region.

Some of those detained on Monday have been released. They include the former heads of the air force and navy and a general who were freed on Thursday, having been questioned by prosecutors.

'Planning exercise'

On Thursday, Turkish President Abdullah Gul sought to reassure the country, saying tensions over an alleged military coup plot would be resolved within the "constitution".

He made the statement after meeting the head of the armed forces, Gen Ilker Basbug, along with Mr Erdogan.

June 2007: Cache of explosives discovered; ex-soldiers detained
July 2008: 20 arrested, including two ex-generals and a senior journalist, for "planning political disturbances and trying to organise a coup"
July 2008: Governing AK Party narrowly escapes court ban
October 2008: 86 go on trial charged with "Ergenekon" coup plot
July 2009: 56 in dock as second trial opens
Jan 2010: Taraf newspaper reports 2003 "sledgehammer" plot to provoke coup
Feb 2010: More than 40 officers arrested over "sledgehammer"; 20 charged

Turkey's religious-secular divide
Turkish military faces crossroads

Reports of the alleged "sledgehammer" plot first surfaced in the liberal Taraf newspaper, which said it had discovered documents detailing plans to bomb two Istanbul mosques and provoke Greece into shooting down a Turkish plane over the Aegean Sea.

The army has said the scenarios were discussed but only as part of a planning exercise at a military seminar.

The alleged plot is similar, and possibly linked, to the reported Ergenekon conspiracy, in which military figures and staunch secularists allegedly planned to foment unrest, leading to a coup.

Scores of people, including military officers, journalists and academics, are on trial in connection with that case.

Critics believe the Ergenekon and sledgehammer investigations are simply attempts to silence the government's political and military opponents.

The AKP has its roots in political Islam, and is accused by some nationalists of having secret plans to turn staunchly secular Turkey into an Islamic state.

The government rejects those claims, saying its intention is to modernise Turkey and move it closer to EU membership.

"The process underway is painstaking, but it is for the benefit of the people, today's developments are setting free the consciousness of the people," Mr Erdogan said.

Sinclair - June 23, 2011 09:26 AM (GMT)
More arrests in Turkey's 'Sledgehammer' probe
Friday, June 3, 2011

ANKARA - Hürriyet Daily News

An Istanbul court on Friday ordered an additional four soldiers, including a top Air Force official, detained pending trial on charges of participating in an alleged 2003 plot to overthrow the government.

Air Force Academies Commander Gen. İsmail Taş is among the suspects arrested after lengthy questioning on charges of “an attempt to remove the government by force.”

Other suspects are colonels Ali Cengiz Şirin, Onur Uluocak and Rafet Oktar and lieutenant commanders Ayhan Üstbaş and Doğan Uysal. Şirin and Uysal were released pending trial.

The arrests bring to 12 the number of soldiers who have been jailed pending trial as part of the “Balyoz” (Sledgehammer) probe into the alleged coup plot.

War Academies Commander Gen. Bilgin Balanlı, who was in line to become Air Force commander in August, became the first active-duty top general arrested in connection with the alleged coup plans when he was arrested Monday.

The arrests are based on documents reportedly seized in February from a house that belonged to Col. Hakan Büyük. A member of the intelligence branch of the Turkish Armed Forces, or TSK, Col. Büyük has already been arrested on charges of plotting a military coup.

The new evidence regarding the case, according to police reports, consists of written documents, video files and digital material on a flash disk, and includes plans to be put into action if the alleged coup attempt were to fail.

The TSK has meanwhile responded to claims reported Friday in daily Zaman that the military was planning on intervening in the 2007 presidential elections, stating that the alleged documents were not found following the TSK’s investigation.

According to the allegations, former Chief of General Staff Gen. İlker Başbuğ told then-Motherland Party, or ANAVATAN, leader Erkan Mumcu that they had talked to the Constitutional Court, which agreed to shut down the ruling Justice and Development Party, or AKP.

The document also alleges that Başbuğ said if Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, current President Abdullah Gül or Deputy Prime Minister Bülent Arınç were to be selected during the 2007 presidential elections, the TSK would intervene.

According to the claims, Başbuğ told Mumcu, “We promise you a new formation.”

The TSK released a statement Friday stating that “the investigations conducted did not result in any documents proving the allegations.”


Lt. Gen. Güler referred to court for arrest as officers testify in plot cases 

21 June 2011

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Lt. Gen. Ziya Güler

A rear admiral and a lieutenant general testified to prosecutors at the Beşiktaş Courthouse on Tuesday, separately, as part of two ongoing investigations; the lieutenant general was referred to court for arrest.
Lt. Gen. Ziya Güler, who appeared at the Beşiktaş Courthouse on Tuesday afternoon along with three other officers to testify on suspected coup documents seized from the Gölcük Naval Command last year, was referred to court for arrest. The documents belong to the Sledgehammer Security Operation Plan, a suspected coup plan devised at a military gathering in 2003 that allegedly sought to undermine the government in order to lay the groundwork for a military takeover. The lieutenant general and officers were interrogated by Hüseyin Ayar.

In early December of last year, a large number of secret documents were seized at the Gölcük Naval Command by police officers. The documents at the base are believed to have been compiled by a prostitution racket accused of resorting to blackmail to extract vital state security information from high-ranking military officers and senior bureaucrats with the intention of selling it to foreign intelligence services. The documents contained records of the categorization of top state figures as to their religious and political tendencies as well as documents suggesting what would happen after a military takeover.

Rear Adm. Alaattin Sevim went to the courthouse along with a group of active duty military officers in a civilian vehicle. They testified to specially authorized prosecutor Cihan Kansız as part of the ongoing investigation into the Action Plan to Fight Reactionaryism, a suspected military plot to discredit the governing Justice and Development Party (AK Party) and the faith-based Gülen movement. The rear admiral left the courthouse in the afternoon following his interrogation. It was not immediately clear if the other officers were released or referred to a court for arrest. No details were available about the content of their testimonies by the time Today’s Zaman went to print.

The action plan details a military plan to destroy the image of the AK Party and the Gülen movement in the eyes of the public, play down the Ergenekon investigation and gather support for members of the military arrested as part of the investigation into Ergenekon, a clandestine organization nested within the state and bureaucracy accused of plotting to overthrow the government. The plot is believed to have been prepared by Col. Dursun Çiçek, who is currently in prison on coup charges.

An indictment into the Action Plan to Fight Reactionaryism points to former İstanbul Mayor Bedrettin Dalan, who is currently at large, as the prime suspect in the alleged plot. AK Party leader and Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan is described as a “victim” in the indictment. The document also mentions six other suspects: Dalan’s secretary, İlhami Ümit Handan; lawyer Serdar Öztürk; National Intelligence Organization (MİT) official Ö.Y.; the security chief of Ulusal TV, Ufuk Akkaya; Aydınlık Editor-in-Chief Deniz Yıldırım; and Col. Çiçek.

A copy of the action plan was found by the police during a raid of lawyer Öztürk’s house on June 7, 2009, as part of the Ergenekon investigation.

The indictment reportedly recommends life sentences without the possibility of parole for Dalan and Col. Çiçek on charges of working to bring down the government and membership in an armed terrorist organization. The indictment calls for jail terms of at least seven-and-a-half years for the other suspects.

The uncovering of the alleged 'Sledgehammer' plot goes towards removing the established Turkish military chiefs, & towards strengthening the position of the current Turkish President, Abdullah Gul, & his 'moderate Islamic' AKP party.

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UK prime minister David Cameron, left, with Turkish president Abdullah Gul in front of 10 Downing Street, November 8 2010
President Gul is in the British capital to receive the prestigious Chatham House prize.  The members elected him for being a force for reconciliation and moderation in Turkey.

Note also the weakening of opposition parties by the release of 'sex videos':

21 May 2011
Turkey opposition politicians quit in sex video scandal

Recep Tayyip Erdogan is seeking another term as prime minister

Six senior politicans in Turkey's opposition Nationalist Action Party (MHP) have resigned amid a sex scandal, shortly before national elections.

Turkish media say the six, including four vice-presidents, quit following threats to publish compromising videos.

Four other senior MHP leaders resigned earlier this month after secretly filmed images were posted online.

The scandal has fanned tensions ahead of the June poll in which the Islamist-rooted AKP is seeking a third term.

Lawmaker Deniz Bolukbasi, one of the six MHP leaders who resigned on Saturday, said he had been the victim of a trap sponsored by Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan's AKP.

"I am resigning to spare my party the damage such allegations might cause," he was quoted as saying by the Associated Press news agency.

'Ugly plot'

The MHP, a nationalist group, is Turkey's second-largest opposition party.

The BBC's Jonathan Head in Istanbul says its performance matters a great deal, because Turkey has a high threshold for winning seats in parliament. If the MHP gets less than 10% support it will have no seats at all.

This, our correspondent says, would give the AKP a chance to achieve a 66% majority, which would allow it to fulfil its pledge to rewrite the constitution without holding a referendum.

An obscure group calling itself "Different Nationalists" has demanded that the entire MHP leadership step down, and earlier this month published the sex videos on the internet.

"The dark forces behind this ugly political plot, both at home and abroad, will come to light as part of the ongoing investigation," Mr Bolukbasi told AFP news agency.

Last year Deniz Baykal, the head of the main opposition party, the secularist Republican People's Party, resigned over a similar scandal after bedroom images of him and a female MP were posted on the internet.

Prosecutors have failed so far to find out who filmed and posted that video.

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