Turkey on Sunday marked nine years since the National Intelligence Organization (MIT) crisis on Feb. 9, 2012, as the trial of 34 defendants in the case continues.
The trial in Istanbul is related to an incident on Feb. 7, 2012, which came to be known as the “MIT plot.” In what investigators call the first attempt to harm the government, Gülenist Terror Group (FETÖ)-linked prosecutors and police officers tried to question and subsequently detain MIT Director Hakan Fidan on that day.
MIT, which plays a key role in bringing members of the terrorist group to justice following the organization's July 15, 2016, coup attempt, has frequently been targeted by FETÖ, which tried to infiltrate the intelligence service as it did the military, law enforcement and judiciary.
The 2012 incident was a plot to establish a link between the intelligence service and the PKK terrorist group through a sham investigation concocted by FETÖ-linked prosecutors and police chiefs.
Fidan did not go to the courthouse to testify, upon the instructions of then-Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, narrowly escaping an arrest that could have triggered a crisis. Leaked audio recordings of conversations between MIT officials and PKK members, known as the "Oslo talks," made the headlines shortly before the attempt to arrest Fidan. The talks were originally part of the government's "reconciliation process" designed to put an end to PKK violence. However, the leaked tapes ended up being fodder for anti-government propaganda, with FETÖ-linked media outlets claiming collaboration between the PKK and the government.
The trial continues at Istanbul 23rd Heavy Penal Court with accusations brought against 34 defendants, 15 of whom are at large.
The defendants include FETÖ leader Fetullah Gülen, who has been living in self-imposed exile in Pennsylvania’s Saylorsburg since 1999, high-ranking “imams” of the terrorist group and others.
“Imam” in FETÖ jargon refers to the handlers of the infiltrators, and “mahrem imams” are handlers known for using intelligence-style methods to avoid detection of their ties to the infiltrators.
The suspects at large are Gülen, the “imam responsible for the judiciary,” Ilyas Şahin, the “imam responsible of the security forces,” Çetin Özgür; the “mahrem imams for MIT services,” Murat Karabulut and Sunay Elmas; the “Marmara regional imam,” Ali Rıza Tekinkaya; the then-deputy chief in anti-terror branch of the Istanbul Police Directorate, Serdar Bayraktutan; the “mahrem imams of security forces,” Murat Tokay, Bekir Kalağası, Hüseyin Civan, Muhammet Bekar and Ramazan Yılmaz; the “Turkey imam” for police officers, Kamil Bayram; former police superintendent Hüseyin Özkan and lawyer Murat Karkın.
FETÖ-linked former police chiefs Yurt Atayün, Erol Demirhan and Ali Fuat Yılmazer; journalists Mustafa Gökkılıç and Faik Şaşmaz in addition to others with FETÖ links, including Kazık Aksoy, Nuh Mehmet Damacı and Ayhan Albayrak, remain in jail.
The trial also includes five other defendants who are in jail for other crimes.
The 23rd Heavy Penal Court decided that the documents in the appendix of the indictment may contain confidential information concerning state secrets, national security and national defense matters, forbidding the examination of them by anyone who is not part of the panel of judges.
The lawyer representing MIT previously demanded that the trial be held in closed sessions. The panel of judges accepted it, putting a gag order in force over concerns that confidential documents might be leaked and put public safety in danger.
The trial includes high-ranking state officials as victims and an MIT employee, identified by his initials as “M.Ö.,” as a plaintiff.
The victims include Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, president of Turkey and the then-prime minister of the 61st Turkish government; then-Deputy Prime Ministers of the 61st Turkish government Bülent Arınç, Ali Babacan, Beşir Atalay, Bekir Bozdağ and Emrullah İşler; then-Minister of Transport, Maritime Affairs and Communication Binali Yıldırım; then-European Union Affairs Minister Egemen Bağış; former Minister of Science, Industry and Technology Nihat Ergün; then-Minister of Labor and Social Security Faruk Çelik; former Minister of Environment and Urbanization Erdoğan Bayraktar; then-Minister of Foreign Affairs Ahmet Davutoğlu; former Minister of Energy and Natural Resources Taner Yıldız; then-Minister of Youth and Sports Suat Kılıç; former Minister of Food, Agriculture and Livestock Mehmet Mehdi Eker; then-Minister of Customs and Trade Hayati Yazıcı; former Minister of Interior Muammer Güler; then-Minister of Development Cevdet Yılmaz; former Culture and Tourism Minister Ömer Çelik; then-Minister of Finance Mehmet Şimşek; former National Education Minister Nabi Avcı; then-Minister of National Defense Ismet Yılmaz; former Minister of Forestry and Water Affairs Veysel Eroğlu; then-Minister of Health Mehmet Müezzinoğlu; then-Minister of Economy Mehmet Zafer Çağlayan; former Minister of Family and Social Policy Fatma Şahin; then-Minister of Justice Sadullah Ergin; MIT chief Hakan Fidan; former MIT chief Emre Taner; former MIT deputy chief Fatma Afet Güneş; former MIT personnel Yaşar Hakan Yıldırım and Hüseyin Emre Kuzuoğlu.
'FETÖ’s first open bid against government'
The indictment of the trial says that the FETÖ terror group was engaged in a power struggle with the Turkish government leading up to the coup attempt on July 15, 2016. FETÖ was behind the botched coup that tried to overthrow Turkey's democratically elected government and killed 251 people and injured nearly 2,200 others. The terrorist group is also accused of using its infiltrators in the police and the judiciary to launch two other coup attempts on Dec. 17 and Dec. 25 of 2013, under the guise of graft probes, in addition to sham trials launched against its adversaries using illegal or fake evidence and trumped-up charges.
Giving several examples from some sham trials organized by FETÖ, the indictment said the MIT investigation on Feb. 7, 2012, was the first-ever attempt by FETÖ to overthrow the democratically elected government of Turkey.
“It is understood that the FETÖ terrorist group sped up its efforts by trying to question MIT chief Hakan Fidan after their sham trials and conspiracies such as Ergenekon, Balyoz, Poyrazköy trials, Izmir military espionage, Tahşiye, Selam Tevhid, the Dec. 17-25 and MIT trucks cases,” the indictment said, referring to a series of investigations and trials launched by FETÖ-linked prosecutors, police chiefs and judges.
In January 2014, prosecutors affiliated with FETÖ ordered gendarmerie, also linked to the group, to stop a convoy of trucks belonging to MIT in Adana and Hatay provinces on their way to Syria, despite government orders to let the trucks pass. The supplies in the trucks were seized and the MIT agents were handcuffed and detained. The incident caused an uproar. Last year, a court ruled that the incident was a plot planned and executed by FETÖ “to harm the state” by disclosing activities of the intelligence service. A separate investigation was launched into Can Dündar, the journalist who published the photos of the trucks' contents, for his role in the plot. The investigators say the MIT truck case was an attempt to discredit the intelligence service and tarnish the government's image by accusing it of supplying arms to militants in Syria.
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