Aziz Yıldırım, chairman of Istanbul team Fenerbahçe, continued his criticism of Gülenists, who he previously accused of plotting against his club, and thanked President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and other political leaders for helping a bill to be passed that killed off what Yıldırım called a conspiracy against him and Fenerbahçe.
Speaking to Habertürk TV a few days after he slammed prosecutors linked to the controversial Gülen Movement for fabricating allegations against him in a match-fixing case, Yıldırım said he was facing a life sentence according to an indictment drafted in 2011 and based on an article in the Constitution that did not seek veritable evidence to convict those involved in fraud and other wrongdoings in sports such as match-fixing. "Then Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and leaders of the opposition parties worked to revise the law and I thank them. If Mr. Erdoğan did not push for the law to be passed, I wouldn't be here today," Yıldırım, who served one year in prison before he was released pending trial, said. The Fenerbahçe chairman had long claimed the evidence against him, which included wiretapping of phone conversations of some Fenerbahçe executives, was intangible and he was simply a victim of "those trying to stage a civilian coup," in reference to the Gülenists.
The match-fixing trial that rocked Turkish sports four years ago, was the culmination of an investigation by prosecutor Zekeriya Öz. Öz, linked to the Gülen Movement, which is accused of attempting to overthrow the government, remains at large after an investigation into the movement led to the issuing of arrest warrants for Öz and another prosecutor. Both prosecutors were involved in a probe and sought to imprison top government officials under the guise of an anti-graft inquiry in 2013. The probe is regarded as an attempt by the Gülen Movement, led by U.S.-based cleric Fethullah Gülen, whose followers include police and judiciary officials and are accused of blackmail, forgery and the illegal wiretapping of thousands.