The Dec. 17 and Dec. 25 operations are not related to corruption probe investigations as claimed by supporters of the Gülen Movement, but were coup attempts that aimed to overthrow the government, former Chief of General Staff İlker Başbuğ has asserted.
In a plea he submitted to the appeal hearing in the Balyoz (Sledgehammer) case, Başbuğ said Turkey's most serious and dangerous problem is the illegal Gülen Movement-affiliated "parallel structure," which has infiltrated state mechanisms, which he said he had always pointed to as a "threat" during his tenure.
Referring to a book of Hanefi Avcı, a former intelligence officer and police chief who received a 15-year sentence after writing a book on the Gülen Movement, Başbuğ said: "The Dec. 17 operation was a coup [attempt]. It never aimed to reveal corruption but rather to topple its rival and seize power."
Başbuğ was handed a life sentence in 2014 in the Ergenekon coup trial, pending appeal. The lengthy trial had seen hundreds of suspects imprisoned on charges of forming a terrorist organization. Suspects were held in pretrial detention for years without tangible evidence but were later released after legal amendments limited such detentions. The trial was reportedly the joint work of infiltrators from the Gülen Movement in the judiciary and police, conducted to stifle opposition to the ubiquitous group that evolved into a politically motivated juggernaut from a simple religious community.
The case has resulted in the indictment of around 300 people. The prosecutors who originally handled the case were Zekeriya Öz, who allegedly has ties to the Gülen Movement, Mehmet Ali Pekgüzel and Nihat Taşkın. Öz, together with another Gülenist prosecutor, Celal Kara, fled the country in August 2015. They were suspended from duty after their escape.
The Gülen Movement, which is led by the controversial, self-exiled, United States-based, fugitive imam Fethullah Gülen, changed from a religious movement into a politically ambitious faction and is accused of managing an army of followers within law enforcement, the judiciary, military and the bureaucracy as well as key posts in public institutions. It has been accused of infiltrating state institutions to gain control of state mechanisms, illegal wiretapping, forgery of official documents and spying with the ultimate intent to overthrow the government.