Former Chief of Staff of the Turkish Armed Forces (TSK) İlker Başbuğ has said that President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan was the sole fighter against the Gülenist Terror Group (FETÖ) from 2012 until the failed July 15 coup attempt.
Speaking at a meeting organized by Rotary International in Bursa on Tuesday, Başbuğ said that President Erdoğan had been left to fend for the country himself in its struggle against FETÖ before the coup attempt, adding that the Gülenist threat must be completely removed from Turkey.
The former chief also objected to the control of military hospitals being brought under the Ministry of Health, saying: "They can examine other countries where military hospitals exist. Is there any other country where these hospitals work under the auspices of the Health Ministry? This decision defies logic."
He added that he supports every disposition taken recently by the Turkish Supreme Board of Judges and Prosecutors (HSYK). "The HSYK has shown great effort to break the deadlock in the judiciary. The judicial system is not like it was in the past anymore, as it has substantially been cleared [of FETÖ],"Başbuğ said.
Underscoring that FETÖ began plotting against the TSK after 2009, he said that they knew that FETÖ was behind these plots though they did not have tangible proof at that time. "As the TSK, we declared to the public that we were struggling with them," Başbuğ said.
Başbuğ was also victimized by FETÖ when he was handed a life sentence in 2014 in the Ergenekon coup trial, which was carried out by Gülenist prosecutors Zekeriya Öz, Mehmet Ali Pekgüzel and Nihat Taşkın. The lengthy trial saw hundreds of suspects imprisoned on charges of forming a terrorist organization. Suspects were held in pretrial detention for years despite lack of tangible evidence and were later released after legal amendments put limitations on such detentions. The trial was reportedly the joint work of FETÖ infiltrators in the judiciary and police.
The infamous case nearly concluded in April after a Supreme Court of Appeals ruling. The country's highest legal authority overturned the convictions of 275 people, ranging from the former head of the TSK to lower-ranking military officers, journalists and academics in the case that was allegedly a plot by FETÖ to imprison all involved using infiltrators in the judiciary and the police.
The prosecutor in the case, Zekeriya Öz, and another Gülenist prosecutor, Celal Kara, fled the country in August 2015. They were suspended from duty after their escape.