Dec 18 2017

Former prosecutor confesses to helping Gülenists ruin officer’s career

A Turkish former prosecutor has confessed he helped a fellow prosecutor and follower of U.S.-based preacher Fethullah Gülen by testifying as an anonymous witness that a rival judiciary official, and an army and a police chief were part of a secularist conspiracy to overthrow the state, the opposition newspaper Sözcü said.

Former prosecutor Bayram Bozkurt is accused of being a member of what the Turkish government calls the Fethullahist Terror Organisation (FETÖ), which Ankara says carried out last year’s abortive coup attempt.

The Gülenists accelarated their infiltration into the judiciary, civil service, police and military in the years after its allies in the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) came to power in 2002 and from 2008 are alleged to have launched a legal purge against secularists in the government and security services alleging they were part of a group called Ergenekon working to overthrow the government. Hundreds were arrested and jailed.

But the Gülenists and the AKP spectacularly fell out with one another in December 2013 when prosecutors said to be tied to the movement ordered the arrest of dozens of people close to the government on corruption charges. The government overturned the charges and had the Gülenist prosecutors and police involved in the case removed from office or jailed.

The Ergenekon convictions have since been overturned.

Bozkurt said İlhan Cihaner, the chief prosecutor in the eastern province of Erzincan where he worked, was “carrying out an investigation into the Gülen movement”.

“There was also gossip among the Gülenist colonels, that (3rd Army Commander General) Saldıray Berk, whom the Gülenists were not happy with, could be the next chief of general staff,” Bozkurt told the court in İzmir where he is on trial.

He said he had met special prosecutor Osman Şanal, a fellow member of the Gülen movement.

“Şanal tried to learn how close I was to Cihaner, Berk and (Erzincan Gendarme Commander Colonel Recep) Gençoğlu and asked me if I could be a witness,” he said. “I was told that Şanal was a member of the movement and to do whatever he asked of me.”

Bozkurt said that Şanal wanted him to testify that there was an Ergenekon branch in Erzincan and its heads were Cihaner and Berk.

“When I told him that I did not want to be a witness, Şanal asked me if I was trying to protect a man who had opened an investigation against me,” he said, saying that Şanal had threatened him with an investigation that would have lost him his job if he did not comply.

Bozkurt said he was given the codename Efe and with his testimony, Cihaner opened an investigation into Çiçek, Berk and Gençoğlu that prevented Berk from being promoted.

With that case and a subsequent investigation into another alleged secularist coup plot, Bozkurt said the Gülen movement was “able to shape the ranks of the commanders of the Turkish Armed Forces as it liked.”