September 18, 2015

Newly prepared indictment for Tahşiye probe full of contradictions

The newly prepared indictment for an investigation, launched over charges that individuals defamed a deadly al-Qaeda-affiliated group known as Tahşiyeciler, has been revealed to be full of contradictions.

The indictment in the Tahşiye investigation, which saw an unprecedented crackdown on the press, including the detention of top journalists, has only recently been prepared after nine months of groundless accusations being leveled at the suspects. The indictment, which was supposed to be submitted to court, was made public by the state-run Anadolu news agency (AA) on Thursday evening, even though it has not yet been made available to defense lawyers.

In an operation on Dec. 14, 2014, Zaman daily Editor-in-Chief Ekrem Dumanlı, Samanyolu Media Group CEO Hidayet Karaca, soap opera scriptwriters and several police officers were detained on charges of terrorism and of being part of a gang that conspired against Tahşiyeciler, following a speech by prominent Turkish scholar Gülen in 2009, in which the scholar warned against a group that "might" be called Tahşiyeciler that was linked to al-Qaeda.

Mehmet Nuri Turan, who owns a publishing house called Tahşiye (Annotation), had leveled accusations against many media outlets who published Gülen's speech during that period, but the police only conducted the investigation on the news reports covered by the Samanyolu and Zaman media groups, and not the others named, exposing the discriminatory and unlawful treatment against the two media organizations.

The Zaman daily and the Samanyolu Broadcasting Group are both affiliated with the Hizmet movement, which has been accused of attempting to oust the government through sweeping graft probes that went public in December 2013 that implicated numerous high-profile individuals. The government is yet to provide solid evidence of its claims. The Hizmet movement is inspired by the teachings of Turkish Islamic scholar Fethullah Gülen.

The police officers detained as part of the probe were accused of engaging in illegal wiretapping and forgery of official documents. However; it was clearly exposed later that Tufan Ergüder, Ertan Erçıktı, Yurt Atayün, Ömer Köse and Kazım Aksoy, who were operating at the İstanbul Police Department's counterterrorism unit, did not engage in any misconduct. An intelligence report sent by the İstanbul Police Department counterterrorism unit to the National Police Department's counterterrorism unit on April 29, 2009 was considered a crime in the indictment. Similarly, a wiretapping order given by 20 separate judges was also presented as if it were evidence of a crime in the indictment.

Furthermore; separate official reports prepared by the General Staff's intelligence agency, the National Intelligence Organization (MİT) and the İstanbul Police Department on the existence of the Tahşiyeciler group were ignored in the indictment. The MİT prepared various reports about the group in 2008 and 2009, the General Staff's intelligence agency prepared a report on the group on March 13, 2009, and the İstanbul Police Department issued intelligence reports about the group in December 2008.

Moreover, the police officers who involved in the probe against the Tahşiyeciler group in 2010 were praised at the time, but they were later declared as being guilty of wrongdoing in 2014. Former İstanbul Governor Muammer Güler had presented weapons seized during the operation as a significant blow against al-Qaeda and praised the police officers who were involved in the operation.

The Tahşiye group was raided in 2010 over their alleged links to al-Qaeda, and their leader, Mehmet Doğan, spent 17 months in prison. After more than five years had passed since the first indictment of Tahşiyeciler, one of the individuals who stood trial as part of the Tahşiyeciler case launched a criminal complaint on May 16, 2014 against certain individuals based on Gülen's speech in 2009 and the İstanbul Chief Prosecutor's Office launched an investigation which reached its conclusion with the detention of Dumanlı on Dec. 14. Tahşiye leader Mehmet Doğan, who was detained and later released pending trial, acknowledged in an interview with CNN Türk in December 2014 that he "loves Osama bin Laden."

Published on Today's Zaman, 18 September 2015, Friday