Turkish security forces detained 10 suspects as part of the probe into a so-called “declaration” signed by 104 retired navy admirals, which came under fire for attempting to interfere in the democratically elected government.
The Ankara Prosecutor’s Office had launched an investigation based on Article 316/1 of the Turkish Penal Code.
In a statement, the prosecutor’s office said the 10 suspects were detained to prevent the destruction of evidence and to determine other suspects involved in the incident, while four other suspects were not detained due to their age but were told to report to the Ankara Police Directorate within three days.
The suspects detained as part of the operation include Ergun Mengi, Atilla Kezek, Alaettin Sevim, Ramazan Cem Gürdeniz, Nadir Hakan Eraydın, Bülent Olcay, Kadir Sağdıç, Türker Ertürk, Turgay Erdağ and Ali Sadi Ünsal.
Gürdeniz is known to be one of the founders of Turkey's new maritime doctrine known as "Blue Homeland," which has become prominent, especially during tensions with Greece over Turkey's rights in the Eastern Mediterranean.
According to Demirören News Agency (DHA), three critical questions will be directed toward the retired admirals who signed the declaration. They will be asked whether they were aware the statement was being prepared, whether they knew the content of the final draft and if they knew when the declaration was planned to be released.
The declaration has drawn a strong reaction from the government and the public, who claim it implies interference in democratic institutions and public will.
After Turkey's decision last month to withdraw from the Istanbul Convention, a European treaty aimed at preventing and combating violence against women, with a presidential decree, it came into question whether Turkey could withdraw from other international agreements the same way. In a TV interview, Parliament Speaker Mustafa Şentop said that technically it is possible and gave the example of The Montreux Convention Regarding the Regime of the Straits. Following discussions about Şentop's statements, 104 retired admirals on Saturday released a statement warning the government.
"We are of the opinion to refrain from any kind of rhetoric or action that could make the Montreux Convention... a matter of controversy," they said.
The Montreux Convention is a 1936 agreement that gives Turkey control over the Bosporus and Dardanelles and regulates the transit of naval warships. The convention guarantees the free passage of civilian vessels in times of peace and restricts the passage of naval ships that do not belong to littoral Black Sea states. Signed on July 20, 1936, at the Montreux Palace in Switzerland, the convention gives Turkey permission to remilitarize the Bosporus and Dardanelles. It went into effect on Nov. 9, 1936, and was registered in the League of Nations Treaty Series on Dec. 11, 1936.
Altun slams indifference to declaration
Meanwhile, Presidential Communications Director Fahrettin Altun on Monday criticized individuals who refrained from speaking up against the declaration.
“The only thing that everyone who respects democracy and the will of the people can do is to take a stance against this insensible declaration with no ifs and buts,” Altun said on Twitter.
Noting that Turkey has faced several problems in recent years, Altun said the attempts to overthrow the democratically elected government remain fresh in people’s minds as they watch individuals trying to make political gains through the antidemocratic declaration “with awe.”
“If we remain silent to the slightest implication of a coup attempt, how can we protect our country and the nation against treacherous plans?” Altun said, adding that underestimating the threat of coups only empowers pro-tutelage circles.
Altun continued by saying that Turkish political history is filled with politicians who adopted a stance according to conjecture rather than principles and that they have all lost their legitimacy in the eyes of the people.
“Turkey cannot be victimized by your dogma and must avoid ideological calculations,” he said, adding that Turkish officials will continue to remain on alert against all threats and protect democracy and the will of the people.
“We all know perfectly well what this antidemocratic memorandum insinuates. That memorandum has no meaning, except to wave one’s finger at the nation’s will and its elected representatives, as a leftover habit of the old guardianship regime,” Altun told a live broadcast on A Haber. He continued by saying that they cannot perceive the statement as an innocent piece of writing.
“The same people, who downplayed the July 15 coup attempt as ‘theater’, now portray this attempt by 104 people, who issued a scandalous memorandum, to create a framework for tutelage, as a grievance.”
Noting that Turkey is aware of the price that the people had to pay as a result of the pro-coup mentality, Altun said this is why they “adopt an uncompromising and clear position.”
On the night of July 15, 2016, a small military junta, formed by Gülenist Terror Group (FETÖ) members, tried to overthrow the democratically elected government and assassinate President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, who was on holiday in the Marmaris district of southwestern Muğla province.
Coup plotters, who used heavy weaponry, including fighter jets, helicopters and tanks, against pro-democracy citizens that poured onto streets, killed 251 people and wounded nearly 2,200.
The coup attempt, which was the first in almost two decades in coup-prone Turkey, saw FETÖ's military infiltrators try to seize power. The attempt was thwarted thanks to strong public resistance.
Top Turkish court condemns statement
The Supreme Court of Appeals also released a statement Monday, saying that Turkey is a democratic, secular state governed by the rule of law and that legal institutions are obliged to protect the democratic legal order.
“Formations not based on any constitutional or legal authority that target the people’s will cannot be acceptable,” the court said in a statement, adding that history has shown that the people have eliminated circles looking to carry out coups or make similar attempts.
The statement continued by noting that all legal institutions will carry out their duties under the framework of the law against all interventions targeting individual rights and liberties.