May 5, 2015

Former President Gül to PM Davutoğlu: My mind is also clear regarding Gülen visit

Former President Abdullah Gül has once again refuted Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu's version of events that involve having informed Gül beforehand of his visit to Turkish Islamic scholar Fethullah Gülen in 2013, while Gül insists that he was disturbed upon hearing that the two had met, and was only informed after the fact.

HaberTürk columnist Fehmi Koru on Tuesday quoted Gül as saying: “My mind is also clear; moreover, it would have been impossible to have forgotten, because I felt so disturbed by the news, and let those around me know that I hadn't been informed about the meeting before it took place.”

Gül's response follows Davutoğlu's remarks to reporters during his visit to Germany, where he insisted on the truth of his claim that Gül had been given prior warning of his visit to Gülen. “I informed him before and after the visit,” Davutoğlu was quoted by CNNTÜRK as saying on Sunday. “With all due respect to Mr. Gül, my mind is very clear. I didn't make any appointment outside of state records,” Davutoğlu said.

Davutoğlu also stated that, at the time of the meeting, he and Gül were in New York for a United Nations General Assembly meeting and that he left for Gülen's home and headquarters in Pennsylvania that weekend. In his remarks to HaberTürk, Gül confirmed that the two were indeed in New York for a United Nations summit; however, the ex-president said that he departed the US earlier than Davutoğlu, and that he had only been informed about Davutoğlu's meeting with Gülen a week after his return, by a presidential officer who had remained with the delegation in New York.

During a visit on Tuesday to the construction site of Beşiktaş's new stadium, Gül briefly responded to reporters' questions regarding his rift with Davutoğlu, saying only, “That issue has been closed.” Gül stated on Friday, “There is something wrong with the part of the account that involves me. I only learned about [the visit] afterwards.”

Davutoğlu's visit to Gülen came into the spotlight following the Zaman daily's Editor-in-Chief Ekrem Dumanlı's statement during a live interview on April 28 that Davutoğlu paid a visit to Gülen in 2013, saying that he does not understand why Davutoğlu now makes it sound as if visiting Gülen is a crime.

After Dumanlı's remarks, Davutoğlu admitted that he had visited Gülen, saying that he had warned Gülen to “remain on a legitimate basis,” and had asked him to return to Turkey. “I have intelligence reports in my hands. I invited him to return but he refused, saying that it was not time yet. I now understand that he was waiting until December to come back. He was going to return like [Iran's Ruhollah] Khomeini,” Davutoğlu told the press in a heavy allusion to the graft scandal that erupted on Dec. 17, 2013, which implicated then-Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, some of his close associates and businesspeople affiliated with the government.

Lawyers representing Gülen on Friday dismissed Davutoğlu's claims that Gülen had rejected an invitation to return to Turkey on the grounds that the timing was not right. The lawyers, in tweets posted on Gülen's official Twitter account on May 1, said: “Unfortunately, Davutoğlu's only correct statement is that he had previously visited Gülen. During the visit, Davutoğlu and Mr. Gülen never had a conversation about domestic policy, and the only matter of discussion between them was the events in Syria.”

Lawyer: Davutoğlu's accusations of secret recording are lies

Meanwhile, a lawyer representing Gülen, Nurullah Albayrak, said on Tuesday that Davutoğlu's claim that the Gülen movement has recordings of the meeting between himself and Gülen is just another aspect of a smear campaign conducted against the movement.

Albayrak emphasized that the government-led campaign to defame Gülen and his supporters is still being waged. Regarding the accusations that his client had the meeting secretly recorded, he stated: “It is quite obvious who has benefited from such secret recordings to date. This accusation lacks any concrete evidence. It should be known that it is the government that carries out intelligence activities such as wiretapping. It is the government that launches smear campaigns against its opponents when it sees fit. Leveling such accusations against the movement will yield no results. It is clear which power is in control of the state, and obvious who is responsible for these activities. These state officials cannot evade responsibility by blustering and accusing those who are innocent. If they do, it will signify that a state-backed conspiracy against its citizens has taken place."

Published on Today's Zaman, 05 May 2015, Tuesday