April 17, 2015

Gülen sues Ankara chief public prosecutor for defamation after terrorist label

Fethullah Gülen's lawyer has filed a civil lawsuit claiming compensation against Ankara Chief Public Prosecutor Harun Kodalak for calling the Turkish Islamic scholar the leader of a terrorist organization, Gülen's lawyer Nurullah Albayrak announced in a written statement on Friday.

Kodalak made the claim in a statement on March 23 in relation to the 2010 State Personnel Examination (KPSS) investigation.

Speaking to Today's Zaman on Friday, Albayrak said that the office of the chief prosecutor in Ankara has violated constitutional articles guaranteeing the presumption of his client's innocence and has trampled on protections that would usually be accorded to Gülen as part of his right to due process and a fair trial. Albayrak added that he also submitted a file against Kodalak to The Supreme Board of Judges and Prosecutors (HSYK) asking it to start a disciplinary investigation.

A news report published in the pro-government media after Kodalak's statement on March 23 indicated that suspects detained by the police were presented with a set of questions and statements saying, for example, “You have been identified as a member or a leader in the Fethullah Gülen terrorist organisation.”

It was revealed on March 24 that Gülen has been named as the main suspect in the case despite the fact that he has been out of the country since 1999 and that there isn't a shred of evidence to prove he has anything to do with the KPSS exam, strengthening claims that the operations are targeting the movement as a part of a revenge campaign for the corruptions probes that went public in December 2013.

Albayrak said there is no record of any court conviction that qualifies his client as being the leader of a terrorist organization and noted that prosecutors have no right to direct such questions to suspects without any such evidence. He noted that the Ankara Chief Public Prosecutor's Office has violated articles of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR), which is a binding agreement in Turkey.

Albayrak added that criminal complaints would also be filed against the police interrogators and prosecutors who declared his client a terrorist. Noting that Gülen has been facing lies, slander and smear campaigns for some time without any evidence presented to the public, Albayrak said he will exercise legal rights to fight these defamation campaigns.

As part of the KPSS 2010 investigation, a total of 30 of the 69 suspects detained were released on March 27 pending trial on charges of forgery of official documents, membership of an alleged illegal organization and engaging in aggravated fraud. The investigation was initially launched in 2010 after more than 3,227 people correctly answered most or all of the questions in the KPSS exam, leading to claims that some of the candidates had either cheated during the test or obtained the questions beforehand. The investigation was revived five years later amid complaints by members of the opposition that the government is using the operations as a springboard to further its own agenda.

Published on Today's Zaman, 17 April 2015, Friday