February 20, 2015

Erdoğan, his allies plot against CHP, Gülen to score political gains

As President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and his allies in the government feel the pressure of the upcoming general elections in June, fabricated news stories about the main opposition party and Fethullah Gülen by pro-government outlets, including the claims of assassination plots, money exchanges, sex tapes and infidelity are being systematically circulated to gain political points.

Three dailies -- Akşam, Star and Güneş -- owned by Ethem Sancak, a businessman with very close ties to Erdoğan, ran stories on their front pages on Friday alleging that a plan to assassinate Sümeyye Erdoğan before the elections was discovered through exposure of private messages between whistleblower Twitter account Fuat Avni -- which these dailies claim is held by US-based journalist Emre Uslu -- and a lawmaker from the main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP), Umut Oran. Uslu denies he is the owner of the Fuat Avni Twitter account.

Speaking on HalkTV channel on Friday, Umut Oran replied to allegations made against him in the pro-government new papers, pointing out that he rang the owner of Star Star, Akşam and Güneş newspapers, Ethem Sancak, but that he failed to answer his phone. “As our [CHP] chairman Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu said, this is a MİT [National Intelligence Organization] attack. This is not just an attack against me; this is also an attack on the CHP.”

“Ethem Sancak's newspapers are specially tasked for this job [of fabricating news], these are organized assaults. These are vicious, inglorious slanders. Also the dialogues [in the private messages] are very basic, I have a more respectable type of speech style,” said Oran.

Umut Oran also issued a written statement in which he chastised the news outlets responsible for the “sickening new reports” he says began on 17 Feb. 17 and continue with planned and increased viciousness. “I have not engaged and will not engage in any disgusting, base relationship which will result in the loss of life of any one our citizens. This event [the assassination of Sümeyye Erdoğan] is a completely incomprehensible figment of imagination,” said Oran.

Stating that he, apart from being a citizen, is a CHP deputy who everybody knows has the necessary will to complete this judicial struggle, Oran said, “The only thing the public needs to know is the government's aptitude to implement such plots. It seems the AKP's [AK Party] knowledge of plotting [against others] has not developed or changed.”

Uslu: Pro-gov't media using Sümeyye Erdoğan assassination, like Kabataş event

The alleged conversations between Fuat Avni and CHP officials followed reports in the pro-government media outlets that journalist Emre Uslu is the real person using the Fuat Avni account, a claim that has been denied and mocked by US-based Turkish journalist Uslu.

Uslu categorically denied claims made by pro-government newspapers suggesting that he is Fuat Avni, saying those making such claims know that they are false and are merely trying to cover up the government's failure to find the real party behind the account. Uslu wrote in his column on Friday, “How badly are you [AK Party] backed into a corner that you try to prove your victimhood through the daughter of the president? Are you more stuck than [you were during the] Gezi [protests]?”

Uslu continued, “Are you [government and pro-government news outlets] not ashamed to use the daughter of the president [for your own interests] so that you can stay a little longer in power, so that you can beat one more opponent?”

Uslu underlined that the pro-government media produced fabricated news in June 2013, at the height of the Gezi Park protests. He compared the alleged report of plans for Sümeyye's assassination to those stating that a woman wearing a headscarf and holding a baby was violently attacked by a group of around 80 protestors at İstanbul's Kabataş ferry station, writing that this was a lie aimed at rallying the religious sections of society around the government.

Fuat Avni has accurately predicted numerous government operations targeting police as well as independent media institutions launched as part of the government's war against the Gülen movement, also known as the Hizmet movement and inspired by US-based Islamic scholar Fethullah Gülen.

Erdoğan accuses police officials and members of the judiciary, whom he claims are sympathizers of the Gülen movement and of staging a coup through the graft investigations that went public with a wave of detentions on Dec. 17, 2013. People in Erdoğan's inner circle as well as his family members were implicated in the investigations.

The news reports alleging that Sümeyye Erdoğan would be assassinated are not the first headlines of this type, as on Thursday, stories in the pro-government media featured alleged Twitter messages between CHP deputies and Fuat Avni claiming the Gülen Movement possesses sex tapes of over 45 CHP deputies.

According to Uslu, MİT's Fuat Avni conspiracy is actually targeting the CHP by implying that the faith-based Gülen community has sex tapes of CHP deputies and is using them to blackmail the party management.

In response to a question by Twitter user Kotilaji-- an alleged police officer asking: "Why is the CHP so dependent on us?" Avni allegedly said, "There are sex tapes of about 45 CHP deputies, including Kılıçdaroğlu, and these tapes are controlled by Fethullah Gülen."

Kılıçdaroğlu spoke out against allegations by pro-government media that the CHP is taking money from government institutions, saying, "We know very well that these stories are made up by MİT. We know how many people from which department of MİT have been assigned to make up these stories."

“They say we have been receiving money through the Turkish Institute of Language [TDK]. Where is the government then? Why can't it find the money? They say we have money in Swiss bank accounts. Then please let us know, give us the account number so that we can get the money,” he said. “We really need money considering that the elections are approaching,” Kılıçdaroğlu told reporters in Ankara.

MHP deputy Vural: If AKP believes assassination allegations it must bring them to Parliament

Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) parliamentary group deputy chairman Oktay Vural also criticized the government over the fabricated headlines, saying the allegations of assassination against Sümeyye Erdoğan defies belief. “If the AKP believes in these allegations it must bring them to Parliament.”

“It seems they themselves do not take the news seriously. The pro-government newspapers do not have plausibility. But I reiterate, if there is a conspiracy, if there is preparation for an assassination, then someone must stop them in their tracks! Also what is the point of headlining such theories, wouldn't these news article hinder the process of the culprits being caught red-handed?” said Vural.

CHP deputy: Erdoğan saying ‘My children and I are under threat' was a signal

CHP Deputy Chairman Bülent Tezcan told Today's Zaman: “A while ago President Erdoğan said ‘My children and I are under threat.' It is now understood that this was a signal. After the signal, this scenario was drawn up and then published in the media.”

Stating that MİT had become the “National Slander Organization” as it feeds pro-government newspapers false information about the government's opponents, Tezcan said: “There is a pyramid for all to see. At the top of this pyramid lies the ruling party; at the base, the pro-government newspapers.”

Mentioning that it is unfortunate that the state's intelligence agency is being used by the government for these operations, Tezcan said, “The ‘National Slander Organization' has, in a systematic way, spread these lies and created a fabricated news and slander environment.”

Top bureaucrats, presidential aides undergoing ‘Fuat Avni test'

After Turkey's intelligence organization failed to identify government whistleblower Fuat Avni, reports have emerged that President Erdoğan's aides, top bureaucrats in the Prime Ministry and even Cabinet members have been profiled in an attempt to find the mole.

According to a report in the Taraf daily on Friday, the intelligence agency has begun profiling approximately 100 candidates from within the political cadres of the AK Party and Erdoğan's aides given that the identity of infamous government whistleblower Fuat Avni remains a mystery.

The information on political figures allegedly gathered through bugging phones and intercepting mail have been used to form a “Fuat Avni case folder” with a list of potential contenders, which has been leaked to pro- government news outlets in order to assist in managing public perception.

The operation to find Fuat Avni was allegedly instigated after President Erdoğan gave intelligence officers, including MİT and the police force, the directive to “find the owner of this [Twitter] account.” Erdoğan was claimed to have even reprimanded members of the intelligence for their failure to identify the owner of the account, which has persistently been revealing government-led operations before they even begin.

After harsh warnings from Erdoğan, MİT and the police force tried to obtain the information from social media company Twitter but to no avail, as the San Francisco-based firm has a direct policy of not sharing its users' identities.

The futile operations to determine Fuat Avni's real identity from its source at Twitter and the profiling of government bureaucrats to find Avni have led the intelligence agency to conduct media operations to alter the perception of the public.

Published on Today's Zaman, 20 February 2015, Friday