The trial of 18 former police intelligence officers for destroying information about six high-ranking members of the Gülenist Terror Group (FETÖ), which was supposed to be sent to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), started in Ankara yesterday.
The officers, including Ramazan Akyürek, the former director of police intelligence, face charges of hiding and destroying official documents. They are also charged with membership of a terrorist group for their links to FETÖ, which is blamed for last summer's coup attempt. The six defendants in the case remain at large while Akyürek is being jailed for another FETÖ-related crime.
The defendants include Lokman Kırcılı, former deputy police chief of the capital Ankara who was caught helping pro-coup troops during the latest putsch bid carried out by a small junta linked to the terrorist group.
Mutlu Köseli, a former police chief, was the first defendant to testify on Thursday and denied all charges. He said he was a low-ranking officer in 2007 and 2008, when the FBI asked for information about several people linked to FETÖ, and had no access to the documents.
The case is related to the questioning of two Turks by the FBI when they arrived and left the United States in 2007. The two men are identified as Osman Hilmi Özdil, s fugitive senior FETÖ member who is accused of controlling the terrorist group's infiltrators in law enforcement, and Murat Karabulut, an intelligence officer linked to FETÖ. Prosecutors say that FBI officials handed over 14 documents found in possession of the two men to Turkish police intelligence but the documents were destroyed by FETÖ-linked police officers in Turkey.
The FBI also asked for information from police intelligence officials about Mustafa Özcan, another high-ranking FETÖ member and six other senior FETÖ figures in 2008, but the minutes of a meeting between an FBI official and police were deliberately kept hidden. Police intelligence, which was largely controlled by the terrorist group's infiltrators, informed the FBI that the six men, all currently wanted for their links to FETÖ, were not "related to any terrorist group."
The indictment also says Özdil and Karabulut were apparently traveling to the United States to meet FETÖ leader Fetullah Gülen, who has lived in exile there, in Pennsylvania, since 1999. Prosecutors claim the two men were there to inform Gülen about a planned operation to imprison hundreds of military officers, journalists, academics and others who have been critical of Gülen. Özdil and Karabulut were in the possession of names who were arrested by FETÖ-linked police and prosecutors a few months after the two men's U.S. visit, the prosecutors claim.
FETÖ is accused in other trials for masterminding sham trials based on forged evidence to imprison its critics.
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