Day of reckoning for FETÖ's 'first coup attempt' in Turkey
An indictment wrapped up on Friday sheds light on the terrorist group FETÖ's bid to remove the intelligence chief in 2012, in what it terms the group's 'first coup attempt,' calling for the trial of 34 suspects including police chiefsby DAILY SABAH
The Gülenist Terror Group (FETÖ), which faces a barrage of investigations regarding the 2016 coup attempt by its military infiltrators, is also at the heart of a notorious incident dating back to 2012.
What is known as the "Feb. 7 conspiracy against MİT," or the National Intelligence Presidency, was actually the first attempt by the group to overthrow the government, prosecutors say. A new indictment by prosecutors in Istanbul disclosed Friday points out that the group sought to remove the head of the intelligence service through a sham investigation. MİT President Hakan Fidan and several other public officials were summoned to testify by FETÖ-linked prosecutors on Feb. 7, 2012, over allegations of MİT's ties to the terrorist group PKK. Later investigations had revealed that the prosecutors and judges ultimately sought to arrest Fidan to trigger a crisis. Fidan did not go to the court to testify, upon the instructions of then-Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.
Prosecutors charged 34 suspects – including FETÖ leader Fetullah Gülen, the group's handlers for its infiltrators in the judiciary, law enforcement and MİT, former police chiefs and a journalist – with attempting to overthrow the government and running a terrorist group. The other charges in the case are obtaining confidential documents for political or military espionage and forgery of official documents. Overall, the charges carry prison terms from aggravated life imprisonment to sentences between 26 and 53 years.
"It is clear that FETÖ engaged in a power struggle with the government and the first stage of its efforts for their ultimate goal (to topple the government) included the Ergenekon, Balyoz and Poyrazköy (trials), military espionage, the Tahşiye and Selam-Tevhid (cases), MİT trucks and the Dec. 17-25 cases," the indictment says, referring to a series of investigations and trials launched by FETÖ-linked prosecutors, police chiefs and judges. All were found to be based on forged evidence and were attempts to stifle FETÖ's critics or imprison anyone the terrorist group viewed as an obstacle to their pursuit of gaining clout. The MİT plot sought to speed up this process, prosecutors say. "This is, as a matter of fact, FETÖ's first attempt to overthrow the elected government of the Republic of Turkey," the indictment says. By arresting Fidan, the plotters would eventually implicate the prime minister in the case and force him to resign, prosecutors say.
Istanbul's specially authorized prosecutors, Sadrettin Sarıkaya and Bilal Bayraktar, who were later revealed to be members of FETÖ, had issued a court summons for Fidan for his supposed collaboration with the PKK, a few months after a tape supposedly containing MİT's talks with the PKK surfaced. However, Fidan and the other public officials involved in the case did not cooperate with the prosecutor's orders after being instructed by then-Prime Minister and current President Erdoğan – who had planned to have surgery on the court day but postponed it due to the incident – not to follow the issued order. At the time, the ruling government had harshly criticized the prosecutor's move, later dismissing him from the case. Sarıkaya later fled the country on Sept. 27, 2015 while under investigation as part of a FETÖ-linked case. He was caught in Istanbul two years later. Bayraktar remains at large. After the incident, a law was passed which stipulated that MİT officials could only be investigated upon the permission of the prime minister.
The indictment also sheds light on details of the conspiracy, including how FETÖ-linked judiciary members manipulated the case of plaintiff Mustafa Özer. Özer, who was later revealed to be employed by MİT, was a journalist who contacted top PKK members and worked as an informant for the intelligence agency. His house was searched upon the order of Bayraktar and he was briefly detained. FETÖ-linked judges issued an order to wiretap his phone and, despite the secrecy on the case, his name and work were openly published on the website of Taraf, a now-defunct newspaper with intimate ties to FETÖ. Prosecutors say FETÖ members sought to portray MİT as an organization collaborating with the PKK with the double purpose of defaming the government and removing top MİT executives, to replace them with their own infiltrators. The terrorist group's infiltrators in the judiciary were aware that the prime minister would have surgery and could not intervene in the process, deliberately choosing Feb. 7 as the date to summon Fidan and others.
Wiretapped Oslo talks
Leaked audio recordings of talks between MİT officials and PKK members, known as the "Oslo talks," hit headlines shortly before the attempt to arrest Fidan. The talks were originally part of the government's efforts collectively known as the "reconciliation process," a bid to end the PKK violence. However, the leaked tapes ended up being fodder for anti-government propaganda, with FETÖ-linked media outlets claiming a collaboration between the PKK and the government. The indictment says hard drives containing audio recordings were "planted" by FETÖ-linked police officers at the offices of a political party with ties to the PKK and were "found" in a raid on the said place on Jan. 13, 2012.
The indictment traces back the plot to remove Fidan to his first days in the post and refers to "Israel's disappointment over the assignment of Fidan as the new head of the intelligence service," implying that FETÖ served the purposes of Israel.
Prosecutors say that the terrorist group, or rather its infiltrators in the law enforcement and judiciary, resorted to a series of crimes to build a case against Fidan and others, including arranging "secret" witnesses, who were people fed up with false information by prosecutors concocting crimes.
There is also a long list of plaintiffs in the case, from Erdoğan to ministers in the 2012 government, as well as Fidan and former officials from the intelligence service. Among defendants are Gülen, who currently resides in Pennsylvania in the United States, and other top names of the terrorist group, mostly fugitives. Other suspects include former police chiefs Ali Fuat Yılmazer and Yurt Atayün, who were already jailed or sentenced in other cases related to the wrongdoings of the terrorist group. Gülen and his "imams," or handlers for infiltrators, face aggravated life imprisonment in the case.
About one year after the MİT incident, FETÖ used its members in the judiciary to open a corruption investigation into some members of the Cabinet. Prosecutors Zekeriya Öz and Celal Kara, now wanted for being members of FETÖ, created a list of names for prosecution, including Erdoğan's son Bilal Erdoğan. The aim was to establish a corruption link through Bilal Erdoğan, through forged evidence, which would then be linked to his father. This attempt was also unsuccessful, as the police did not follow the prosecutor's orders. After this incident, which the government considered to be a breaking point, efforts to stop FETÖ members who had infiltrated nearly all government institutions intensified. Eventually, this led to FETÖ being listed as a national security threat after the recommendation of the National Security Council (MGK).