Five years have passed since the Gülenist Terror Group's (FETÖ) judicial coup attempts failed on Dec. 17 and Dec. 25, 2013. The attempts, intended to topple the democratically elected government through manipulated wiretappings and forged evidence, were the first time the group showed its true colors during the period leading to the July 15, 2016 coup attempt. Planned by FETÖ members who had infiltrated state institutions as a part of the terrorist group's decades-old strategy, the plot to seize power was unsuccessfully carried out on Dec. 17, 2013.
"It was a definite coup attempt of taking over the state and toppling the democratically elected government; however, the organization was faced with resistance from the government," Oral Çalışlar, a columnist for the Turkish daily Posta, told Daily Sabah.
Former prosecutors Celal Kara, Mehmet Yüzgeç and Zekeriya Öz, who now have red notices against their names, launched the investigation on Dec. 17, targeting four ministers and numerous state servants. The prosecution was based on years-long illegally obtained wiretaps and manipulated evidence.
Kara, Öz and Yüzgeç are the prime suspects in an investigation into FETÖ's first coup attempt in December 2013. The three fugitives were named in a 557-page indictment that charges them with an attempt to overthrow the government, running an armed terrorist organization, abuse of duty, forgery in official documents, violation of privacy of communications, illegal wiretapping, defamation, fraud and other charges. Apart from life sentences for attempting to overthrow the government, they face prison terms of up to 72 years if convicted.
Öz and Kara, who were also behind several sham trials orchestrated by FETÖ to imprison the terrorist group's critics, are in the German city of Freiburg, according to Turkish media reports. Turkey has issued an international arrest warrant for them.
As part of the plot, 52 people were detained on that day from the circles of the Justice and Development Party (AK Party) and the prosecutors accused the interior minister, environment and urbanization minister, economy minister and the EU minister of corruption charges.
Addressing the Dec. 17 and Dec. 25 plots as the first real reflection of the insidious face of FETÖ, which has long posed as a charity movement, AK Party Group Deputy Chairman Bülent Turan said the real aim of the organization was to overthrow the government by creating a perception of corruption in the public and to cast a shadow on the local elections on March 30, 2014.
However, despite the organization's attempt to manipulate public opinion by leaking wiretaps during the campaign period, the AK Party won 18 out of 30 metropolitan municipalities, garnering 43 percent of the votes and further strengthening its legitimacy.
Recalling a previous attempt on Feb. 7, 2012 to prosecute the National Intelligence Organization (MİT) head Hakan Fidan and some officers as part of an investigation related to the PKK's umbrella organization and administrative structure, the Kurdish Communities Union (KCK), Çalışlar said it was FETÖ's attempt to demonstrate its power within state institutions.
Branding the movement a "parallel structure" operating within the state, the government's swift response prevented coup plotters from achieving their goal, and a comprehensive investigation was launched to tackle the danger posed by FETÖ in positions within the judiciary, the police force and institutions in education, media, security and business.
To answer government countermeasures to protect democratic institutions, FETÖ launched a second wave of the judicial operation on Dec. 25, 2013, to take control of the top council for judges and prosecutors. The move was launched by FETÖ-linked prosecutor Muammer Akkaş, as he issued an arrest warrant for 30 more individuals on charges of corruption, but the Istanbul Directorate of Security refused to make the arrests according to the orders of a particular clique within the judiciary linked to FETÖ.
After countering both attempts, the government scaled up efforts between the beginning of 2014 and July 2016 to clear out FETÖ members who had infiltrated nearly all government institutions. Due to fears of losing their influence within state institutions, FETÖ eventually attempted to completely seize power on July 15, 2016 through a military coup attempt perpetrated by its infiltrators in the military.
"This organization has been infiltrating all political movements for the last 40 years. However, when we understood that they are not a simple movement but a criminal gang, we acted as a government fighting terrorism. We will continue to fight FETÖ until it is fully eradicated," Turan said, adding that FETÖ is not just an enemy of the AK Party but also a direct enemy of the Turkish state.
The trial of the suspects of the Dec. 25 coup attempt concluded yesterday as the judge sentenced 10 suspects, including former police officers, to aggravated life sentences on charges of attempting to overthrow the Turkish government.