Gülen-linked suspects on trial for bugging Erdoğan’s office
by Daily Sabah
ANKARAFeb 23, 2016 - 12:00 am GMT+3
by Daily Sabah
Feb 23, 2016 12:00 am
A trial of 11 defendants linked to the shady Gülen Movement started in Ankara on charges of planting bugs in the offices of then Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan
The defendants include the former vice president of the state-run Scientific and Technological Research Council (TÜBİTAK) and police officers who worked in the security service for the Prime Minister's office.
All denied the charges in the first hearing, and denied links to the Gülen Movement, whose followers are accused of running a terrorist organization bent on overthrowing the government. Former TÜBİTAK Vice President Hasan Palaz is accused of carrying out orders from Fethullah Gülen while he served at TÜBİTAK, a powerful watchdog, which is regarded as Turkey's highest authority for science. Palaz and others were arrested last year, charged with wiretapping Erdoğan's conversations while he served as prime minister between 2003 and 2014. Sedat Zavar and İlker Usta, two police officers charged in the case, have fled to Romania to avoid prosecution but were extradited to Turkey in March 2015. The suspects are formally accused of eavesdropping on top officials and disclosing information of a highly sensitive nature as well as "forming an organization to commit a crime and being a member of this organization," "violating privacy," "illegally seizing personal information" and "forging official documents." Prosecutors are seeking between 21 to 36 years in prison for the accused.
The Gülen Movement runs over 140 private schools and charity organizations around the world, including the U.S., Europe, Asia and Africa. The group changed from a simple religious movement into a politically ambitious faction, accused of managing an army of followers within law enforcement, judiciary, military, bureaucracy as well as key posts in public institutions. It has been accused of infiltrating state institutions to gain control of state mechanisms, illegal wiretapping, forgery of official documents and spying with the ultimate intent to overthrow the government.