Gülenist prosecutor says group has sought to topple Erdoğan since 2011

NAZIF KARAMAN
ISTANBUL
Published 24.08.2016 23:18
Updated 24.08.2016 23:19
Gülenist prosecutor says group has sought to topple Erdoğan since 2011

Hüseyin Kaplan, a prosecutor behind the plot to imprison military officers on false charges, admitted his links to the Gülenist terror group, and said the group has planned to overthrow President Erdoğan since 2011

A prosecutor arrested for membership in the Gülenist terror group says in 2011, the terrorist cult first started plans to topple President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, who survived two coup attempts by Gülenists in 2013 while serving as prime minister, and as president survived a direct attempted assassination in the attempted coup on July 15.

Hüseyin Kaplan was a prosecutor in Gölcük, a small town in northwestern Turkey which is also home to the Turkish Navy, when Turkey was rocked in 2010 by the Sledgehammer (Balyoz) case, during which several military officers were detained on charges of planning a coup. The purported "evidence" in the Balyoz was fabrications concocted by Gülenists, who sought to remove military brass who opposed the clout the terrorist cult had in the army. Dozens of officers, including generals, were in later years acquitted of coup charges.

Kaplan, who investigated the allegations towards Navy admirals in Balyoz case, said the terrorist cult began preparing plans in 2011 to overthrow Erdoğan after it fell out with the now-president's policies for which they once expressed support. This was one year before the cult took the first steps. In 2012, Hakan Fidan, the head of Turkey's intelligence agency, faced prosecution by Gülenist prosecutors in a case later discovered to be a plot to imprison him. Erdoğan instructed Fidan to not go to the prosecutor's office, where he would be likely arrested on trumped-up charges, and this is now seen as the first attempt to implicate figures close to Erdoğan.

Kaplan testified after his arrest last week that he was introduced to the cult while he was at high school, and was a member for 30 years, serving as a regional leader for cells of the terrorist group across Turkey. "I never severed my ties with them and always hid my membership," he claimed.

While he prosecuted in the Balyoz case, Kaplan says the terrorist cult thought Hakan Fidan, the head of the National Intelligence Organization (MİT), sought to curb the influence of the terror group within the state. "They viewed Fidan and Erdoğan as enemies and this hostility grew over time. It peaked during the Gezi Park protests, during which [Gülenists] wanted the government to suffer." Kaplan was referring to riots which began in Istanbul in 2013, when a peaceful protest against excessive development turned into anti-government riots across Turkey.

The former prosecutor revealed that Gülenist judges and prosecutors would blacklist judiciary members based on their ideology or ethnicity. Gülenists, through infiltrators within the judiciary and law enforcement, are accused of organizing sham trials and multiple criminal cases to imprison critics of the cult.

Kaplan turned himself in after hiding out for one month after a court ordered his arrest, along with other judges and prosecutors in a case involving infiltrators within the judiciary. Hundreds of judges, prosecutors and court clerks were arrested and dismissed following the July 15 coup attempt, which was led by a small Gülenist junta. Kaplan was married to the sister of a prominent tycoon who claimed he faced false charges of drug smuggling when he refused to donate to the cult, and made headlines when he sent a letter to the businessman following the coup attempt. Kaplan has apologized to the businessman and has expressed his regrets for being a member of the terror cult after he learned that Gülenists were behind the attempted coup.

The terrorist cult, headed by the U.S.-based retired and fugitive imam Fethullah Gülen, is at the heart of a string of judicial investigations, most recently for the coup attempt on July 15. Gülen and his followers are wanted on charges of running a terror group and attempting to overthrow the Turkish government. Several investigations have revealed that the cult had plans to carry out terror plots through members who had infiltrated the judiciary and police, as well as a massive network of followers from every profession in Turkey and around the world. Dozens of police officers, prosecutors, judges and bureaucrats are facing trial on a string of allegations, ranging from widespread illegal wiretapping and plotting to imprison critics of the terror cult using fabricated or altered evidence.

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