17 Turkish Military officers who stopped intelligence trucks arrested

DAILY SABAH WITH AGENCIES
ISTANBUL
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17 Turkish Military officers who stopped intelligence trucks arrested

An Istanbul court ruled Friday for the arrest of 17 high-ranking military officers on charges of stopping and raiding trucks belonging to Turkey's National Intelligence Organization (MİT). Also on Friday, Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu attended the Police Academy's celebrations in Ankara marking the 170th anniversary of the establishment of the National Police Department where he said: "The Police Department is not an institution of a group, but all citizens of this country," alluding to the Gülen Movement, who are allegedly behind stopping the MİT trucks with its alleged infiltrators in the army.

The court also ruled for the release of five officers while imposing travel bans on the remaining 10 suspects. An Istanbul prosecutor on Sunday ordered the detention of 34 high-ranking army members, including those who were tasked with stopping and raiding trucks belonging to MİT while en route to Syria to carry supplies to Turkmens in January 2014, on charges of spying. Istanbul Public Deputy Prosecutor İrfan Fidan, who looked into the alleged offense, said 24 of the 34 officers were detained on Sunday night.

Sixteen of the 34 officers were reported to be tasked in the southern province of Adana where the MİT trucks were intercepted by security forces on the order of a prosecutor who allegedly acted on a tip that the trucks were full of ammunition to be delivered to a terrorist organization. The operation that subsequently detained the MİT trucks is believed to be a plot hatched by the Gülen Movement in order to spark a crisis. As more details have been unveiled pertaining to the matter, the possibility that the operation was pre-planned and conducted by members of the Gülen Movement in the police and prosecutors in a purported attempt to defame the government, which it considers its foe, strengthened, prompting the prosecutor's office to investigate the incident.

A majority of the suspects in question had lawsuits filed against them on charges of spying by the deputy public prosecutor's office, and following the operation, the prosecutor who investigated the incident sought 15 to 20 years in prison for the military staffers that were allegedly involved in stopping the MİT trucks on Jan. 19, 2014, for "obtaining confidential state information to be used for political and military spying," and life sentences for making them public. The indictment the prosecutor prepared was later submitted to the Adana Seventh High Criminal Court where the trial is currently being heard.

Last January, trucks belonging to MİT carrying aid to Turkmens were stopped and intercepted by security forces upon the order of former Adana Public Prosecutor Özcan Şişman. The supplies in the trucks were seized and MİT staffers were handcuffed before they were detained, which prompted the government to reform its intelligence laws in an effort to avoid such situations in the future. The governor of the province was informed about the incident in its latest phase, and many believe the operation was aimed at creating a political crisis via joint efforts by the Gülen Movement and anti-government media outlets that made the incident public, despite its highly confidential status.

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