Gülenist bureaucrats detained, company investigated in crackdown
by Compiled from Wire Services
ISTANBULMar 09, 2016 - 12:00 am GMT+3
by Compiled from Wire Services
Mar 09, 2016 12:00 am
Turkey's struggle against Gülenists, who are accused of two attempts to overthrow the government, continues with new operations against the shady group.
Police detained six, including current and former bureaucrats, in the western city of İzmir yesterday on charges of financing the Gülenist Terror Organization (FETÖ) through corruption involving public agencies. In Istanbul, a court appointed trustees to a news agency associated with Gülenists, a few days after the Gülenist mouthpiece Zaman was seized. Istanbul's First Criminal Court of Peace decided late on Monday to appoint trustees to Cihan News Agency, a sister company of Zaman owned by the umbrella Feza media group. Both Zaman and Cihan are known for their reporting and articles critical of operations against FETÖ, which is officially designated as "a national threat" due to illegal activities. The FETÖ terrorist organization, run by the U.S.-based retired preacher Fethullah Gülen, is according to prosecutors, charged with a string of crimes ranging from illegal wiretapping to plotting to imprison critics of Gülen. FETÖ is broadly comprised of Gülenist infiltrators acting as police chiefs, prosecutors, judges and bureaucrats, blamed for the majority of wrongdoings.
In İzmir, which is viewed as "a stronghold" for Gülenists due to the popularity of Fethullah Gülen who became famous after he began giving sermons there in the 1970s, police detained six people in an operation against FETÖ. The current director of the İzmir branch of Social Security Agency (SGK) and a former SGK director for İzmir were among the detainees. The detainees are accused of corruption in the sale of lands owned by SGK to a university linked to Gülenists. Prosecutors claim the lands were sold to Şifa Üniversity for a very low price. Suspects are also charged with forgery in official documents and aiding and abetting a terrorist organization. Another suspect wanted in the case remains at large, while police searched offices and residences of the suspects.
Authorities have stepped up operations against Gülenists in the past week, which saw the detention of 33 people and arrests of seven others across the country. The total number of detentions since January rose to 349, while 116 people were arrested on charges of FETÖ membership. Gülenists have faced a nationwide purge from state institutions since 2014, a few months after a plot to topple the government under the guise of two judicial inquiries was launched by Gülenist infiltrators within the police and judiciary.
Last week's arrests netted high-profile figures linked to FETÖ, such as Hacı and Memduh Boydak, two brothers who run prominent business conglomerate Boydak Holding. The duo is accused of financing the terrorist organization.
This week, investigation into activities of FETÖ extended to a brother of Fethullah Gülen living in his Gülen's hometown of Erzurum. Salih Gülen is wanted for aiding and abetting the group and remains at large.
A manhunt was also launched to capture Mustafa Aktaş, a former police chief in the northern city of Sakarya who was among senior law enforcement figures running the Ergenekon operations a few years ago. Ergenekon, named after an alleged gang of generals, journalists and businesspeople is considered a plot by Gülenists to imprison people who opposed their clout in Turkey. All the defendants in the Ergenekon trial were released after they were granted a retrial, given the unfair judicial process, which was muddled due to allegations that evidence was forged to imprison defendants.
Police also arrested Faruk Öksüz, a lawyer accused of FETÖ membership, in an operation yesterday. Öksüz was part of a defense team for a general arrested in the infamous "intelligence agency trucks" case. Police earlier arrested three other lawyers for supplying photos of a raid on trucks to the editor-in-chief of Cumhuriyet newspaper. The raid on the trucks belonging to the National Intelligence Directorate (MİT), reportedly carrying humanitarian aid to Syria, sparked outrage after it was found out that soldiers and prosecutors carrying out the operation against the secret mission ordered a raid on the trucks while they were heading to Syria two years ago.