December 18, 2015

Yıldırım: The last person who should be accused of terrorism is İşbilen

Reactions continue to mount over the recent arrest of former Justice and Development Party (AK Party) deputy İlhan İşbilen, as Hasan Hami Yıldırım, another former AK Party deputy, said he is the last person who should be accused of terrorism or membership in a terrorist organization.

İşbilen and two others were arrested on Dec. 14 after being detained as part of an operation against the Gülen movement, also known as the Hizmet movement, a grassroots initiative inspired by the teachings of Turkish Islamic scholar Fethullah Gülen.

Speaking to Today's Zaman on Friday, Yıldırım said it is wise neither to mention İşbilen as a terror suspect nor to arrest him. “As far as I followed the developments in the media, the arrest was conducted after he was asked questions that have no relation to [terror accusations]. I regard the incident as part of a process that started following the Dec. 17 [corruption investigations]. Since then, it was determined that the people of a certain movement [Hizmet] should be blamed for everything that goes wrong in the country. [Senior government officials] are trying to pin unrelated crimes on the movement's followers. I know İşbilen. He is the last person who should be accused of terror or membership in a terrorist organization. He is a very nice man. Claiming that he is involved with terrorism is not wise. I think the decision to arrest him was made some time ago and that questions were asked just to follow routine procedures.”

Haluk Özdalga, another former AK Party deputy, talked to Today's Zaman and said he never witnessed İşbilen being involved in terror-related activities. “Leaving everything aside, it's so sad to see a [former] deputy arrested before the claims about him were proven to be true. This is a political investigation and prosecution, rather than a legal one. I want İşbilen to be released immediately. There is no concrete evidence about him forming or being a member of a terrorist organization. A majority of the public believe cases such as this aren't legal, but are acts of politically motivated revenge. Cases like these seriously damage [reputation of] Turkey,” Özdalga added.

‘Erdoğan once spoke highly of İşbilen'

Former Culture and Tourism Minister Ertuğrul Günay told Today's Zaman that then-Prime Minister and current President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan spoke highly of İşbilen. “I was introduced to İşbilen as a very decent, nice and knowledgeable man, in 2011. Erdoğan himself spoke highly of him. Not only me, but everybody in Parliament knew Mr. İşbilen as someone who respects the Constitution and Parliament's bylaws.

Günay added he believes accusations against İşbilen will prove to be wrong and he will be free again as soon as possible.

In addition, İşbilen wrote a letter from Sincan Prison in Ankara, where he currently being held, saying his arrest is an act of revenge because he resigned from his position as an AK Party deputy. İşbilen also said in the letter he was arrested based on accusations that are not related to him, without any concrete evidence being presented.

İşbilen resigned from the AK Party last February, criticizing the AK Party government over the graft scandal in which four Cabinet ministers left their posts. He also blasted Erdoğan for his derogatory and insolent remarks about Gülen.

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