The fugitive imam in self-imposed exile, Fethullah Gülen, is back in the spotlight again in an investigation into the 2011 murder of a journalist in the northwestern province of Kırklareli. Several police officers were detained for the alleged cover-up of the murder of the journalist who was writing a book about the private life of Gülen, the designated leader of the Gülenist Terror Organization (FETÖ). Haydar Meriç was found dead at sea 18 days after he was abducted by unknown assailants. The media reported that he was hogtied before he was dumped at sea a short time after he told his friends he would write a book about Gülen during the latter's tenure as an imam in Kırklareli in the 1960s. Media outlets reported that the book was allegedly about a homosexual affair Gülen had with a cleaning worker at a mosque where he worked.
Police rounded up dozens of suspects earlier this week as part of the investigation into the murder and its aftermath and prosecutors are now seeking arrest warrant for 15 suspects in detention.
The state-run Anadolu Agency (AA) reported that after Meriç, a renowned investigative journalist, revealed his plans to write a book about Gülen, he was wiretapped by police officers linked to Gülenists after he was falsely designated as member of a left-wing terrorist organization. He was later found dead and the murder was initially blamed on a dispute with unknown suspects Meriç knew during his time as a treasure hunter.
Officers in 22 cities were detained earlier this week for membership in the FETÖ, illegal wiretapping, making threats and other charges. No suspect has been charged with the murder or cover-up yet, but according to police sources quoted in AA, several police intelligence officers deployed in Istanbul traveled to Kırklareli before the murder to allegedly seize a first draft of the book and covered their tracks during their stay in Kırklareli. The AA report claims Meriç was stopped multiple times by police and his possessions were searched while a phone call longer than one minute he made the night he disappeared was missing from phone logs, pointing out that the officers linked to Gülenists might have deleted the call.
Speaking to the Sabah newspaper, Meriç's brother Hikmet said the victim was receiving phone calls threatening him not to write the book. Hikmet Meriç said police officers, possibly linked to Gülenists, told him to give up pursuing the process to capture his brother's killers.
Haydar Meriç, as a possible victim of Gülenist officers, was first mentioned by former police Chief Hanefi Avcı, who faced imprisonment on trumped-up charges after he himself wrote an expose on Gülenist infiltration in law enforcement. Avcı implied in an interview that law enforcement involved with Gülenists were involved in the murders of Meriç and Professor Necip Hablemitoğlu, another author who was shot dead in 2002 before he completed a comprehensive book about Gülenists.
Gülenists are accused of establishing a terrorist organization, which was allegedly behind two coup attempts in 2013. Since the coup attempts through Gülenist sympathizers in judiciary and police were foiled, the group has been targeted in a nationwide purge to stop their influence in the judiciary, police and bureaucracy. Initially a simple religious group, the Gülen Movement, named after the U.S.-based cleric, turned into a powerful movement controlling business conglomerates and schools in Turkey and around the globe. Gülen is the prime suspect in multiple cases where he and his followers are accused of illegal wiretapping, money laundering and plotting to imprison critics.