January 11, 2015

Police kept crucial documents from court to support plot against media

The government-orchestrated plot to muzzle the independent media outlets Zaman daily and Samanyolu Broadcasting Group was revealed when police investigators kept crucial evidence from the prosecutor and the court in İstanbul that heard the case against journalists Ekrem Dumanlı and Hidayet Karaca.

A summary of the police investigation that led to the detainment of top executives of the two media outlets revealed that the police withheld crucial documents from their case file.

The documents include confidential files prepared by the National Intelligence Organization (MİT) and the intelligence services of the police and military on the al-Qaeda-linked group Tahşiyeciler (Annotators), whose leader Mehmet Doğan was detained for 17 months after being arrested in early 2010. Doğan was later released pending trial.

When the İstanbul Police Department asked the National Police Department about whether they had any files on the Tahşiyeciler, the National Police Department responded in writing in November 2014, saying that it had nothing on the group before Nov. 22, 2010.

The whole case was built on the complaint that Islamic scholar Fethullah Gülen criticized the Tahşiyeciler. Soon after Gülen criticized the Tahşiyeciler and warned against using violence in a speech posted on his website Herkul.org on April 6, 2009, the media covered Gülen's speeches and police launched the investigation into theTahşiyeciler.

After a defamation complaint against Gülen and the media from a suspected member of the Tahşiyeciler in March 2014, the prosecutor launched the investigation that led to detention of Dumanlı and Karaca on Dec. 14, 2014.

The prosecutor alleges that the Tahşiyeciler were framed by police, journalists and Gülen under anti-terror laws for setting up an armed terror group and administering it while defaming radical group.

However, it was revealed that MİT issued a circular to police departments in 12 provinces detailing the dangerous activities of Tahşiyeciler long before Gülen's speech. The document, classified as confidential and included in the still-pending case file against Tahşiyeciler, was dated Dec. 3, 2008. The circular described the group as having some 5,000 members and identified Mehmet Doğan, also known as mullah Muhammed, as the group leader who was exploiting religion.

MİT sent the police further intelligence about the group on Feb. 17, March 17 and March 30, 2009. The Counter-Terrorism Department of the İstanbul Police Department forwarded the case file, with all information collected about the group, to the prosecutor's office. The prosecutor then ordered the judicial investigation into Tahşiyeciler that led to raids on safe houses used by the group on Jan. 22, 2010.

Not only MİT, but also the General Staff's intelligence bureau had also been monitoring Tahşiyeciler long before Gülen's speech, warning the military about the group's activities in March 2009.

In the case file on the Tahşiyeciler-- classified as secret by the intelligence unit of the General Staff -- sent to the office of the Land Forces Commander by General Staff intelligence head Gen. İsmail Hakkı Pekin on March 13, 2009, the Tahşiyeciler were described as an al-Qaeda-linked group. The intelligence documents said the group's leader, Mehmet Doğan, sought to implement al-Qaeda's ideology, telling his followers to join former Taliban leader Osama bin Laden's army in Afghanistan and assassinate the country's political and religious leaders.

The file said Doğan saw bin Laden as a military commander for the Mahdi, the prophesied redeemer of Islam that the entire Muslim world is waiting for, and saw al-Qaeda as the army of the Mahdi.

During a Jan. 22, 2010 operation targeting the group, police raided the homes and offices of 112 people across Turkey and discovered three hand grenades, one smoke bomb, seven handguns, 18 hunting rifles, electronic parts for explosives, knives and a large cache of ammunition.

However, the police did not send the intelligence collected by the MİT and General Staff -- which would clear the journalists and Gülen from all charges levelled against them -- to the court.

Published on Sunday's Zaman, 11 January 2015, Sunday