Seven years after Deniz Baykal resigned as head of the main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP), an indictment regarding those accused of releasing the sex tapes that resulted in Baykal's resignation has concluded.
The Ankara Chief Prosecutor's Office names Fetullah Gülen, leader of the Gülenist Terror Group (FETÖ), as the prime suspect in the case that was allegedly motivated by FETÖ's goal to "redesign" political parties.
Former police chiefs are implicated in the case for installing hidden cameras to record the sexual affairs of Baykal and senior executives of the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), who, like Baykal, resigned soon after the tapes surfaced online.
A fugitive tycoon behind the online campaign to defame MHP politicians by releasing their videos was also indicted.
A total of 171 defendants in the case are charged with establishing and running a terrorist group, violation of privacy and several other crimes. Prosecutors say FETÖ, which has been accused of multiple coup attempts since 2013, sought to "redesign Turkey's political environment" with the ultimate goal of "seizing power," employing its infiltrators in law enforcement for that purpose. They say a police intelligence unit, largely infiltrated by FETÖ members, actively plotted against Baykal and MHP politicians. Suspects planted video cameras and sound recorders in 12 different locations in the homes and offices of the politicians on the sex tapes, using the recorded footage "to serve the purposes of FETÖ." A total of 164 suspects were formerly employed in police intelligence, and 151 defendants are members of FETÖ. Prosecutors say that Bylock, an encrypted messaging app used exclusively by the terrorist group, was detected on the phones of 118 suspects.
Baykal, a staple of Turkish politics for decades who was the chair of the main opposition party, resigned from office after a sex tape surfaced revealing his affair with his former secretary who later served as a CHP deputy. In 2010 and 2011, more sex tapes, this time showing senior executives of MHP, emerged and they were also forced to resign.
The indictment now awaits approval by the court. Members of FETÖ already face a barrage of trials, especially in the aftermath of last year's July 15 coup attempt that killed 249 people. FETÖ infiltrators in the army are accused of carrying out the putsch bid that was allegedly masterminded by Gülen and his point men that oversaw army infiltrators.
An investigation into who released the sex tapes was launched, but details had not resulted in an indictment for years, blamed by media outlets for lack of progress in the case as FETÖ members working in the case obstructed the investigation. Thousands of members of the cult have been dismissed from their duties, detained or arrested since the July 15 coup attempt. The secretive terrorist group is known for its widespread infiltration of positions in law enforcement, the judiciary, the military and various bureaucratic positions, having managed to hide followers in positions in the said branches for decades before moving to seize power from the Turkish state, first in 2013 and then in 2016.
A former member of the group claimed that FETÖ actually hired female followers to blackmail and extort people, from ministers to generals, by secretly recording sexual affairs.
Çetin Acar, a senior figure in the terror cult before severing ties with the group a few years ago, testified in a trial against the group in the capital city of Ankara, saying they also hired prostitutes to secretly videotape their affairs. He claimed that some generals, arrested for involvement in the July 15 coup attempt, might have been blackmailed into joining the group because of those sex tapes. Acar said FETÖ formed a gang for the specific purpose of blackmailing the subjects of the sex tapes, led by Cihangir Çelik, the former head of Turkish police's counter-terror unit.
A former police chief and 37 others were arrested in August 2016 for planting hidden cameras in an attempt to record the sexual affairs of influential political figures.
The indictment also includes four suspects, all former members of law enforcement, who were also implicated in the infamous "bug" case, including Sedat Zavar, İlker Usta, Enes Çığcı and Ali Özdoğan who are all accused of planting bugs in the residence of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan during his tenure as prime minister.
Prosecutors say 46 suspects have been arrested so far, and 44 suspects remain at large. Gülen, who resides in Pennsylvania, is among the fugitives. He is the chief suspect in all FETÖ-related cases. Other noteworthy defendants include Osman Hilmi Özdil, a suspected point man who commanded infiltrators in law enforcement, and former police intelligence unit heads Ramazan Akyürek and Ömer Altıparmak. Both men are already implicated in other cases related to FETÖ. Akyürek is currently on trial for conspiracy to cover up the murder of Turkish-Armenian journalist Hrant Dink in 2007. İbrahim Faruk Bayındır, a fugitive aviation tycoon accused of financing an online campaign against MHP executives, including the release of the sex tapes, is another suspect in the case. Bayındır is believed to be in the U.S., having fled after the investigation against him was launched.