January 11, 2015

Former CHP leader refutes claim of Hizmet link to his sex tape, implies gov’t involved

The former leader of the main opposition party has dismissed a claim by a former top intelligence figure that a sex tape which led to his resignation was a plot against him conducted by the faith-based Hizmet movement.

“These are empty words. Such issues needs a more solid, serious investigation,” Deniz Baykal, former leader of the Republican People's Party (CHP), said at a party meeting on Saturday.

Baykal's remarks came in response to the claim expressed in a recently published book by Sabri Uzun, a former head of the intelligence department of the Security General Directorate, who said police officers affiliated with Hizmet were behind a plot against the former CHP leader. In his book titled “İn” (Lair), Uzun said the video footage showing Baykal was involved in an extramarital affair, which was leaked on the Internet in early May 2010, was a plot by Hizmet -- which is inspired by Fethullah Gülen, a Turkish Islamic scholar who preaches tolerance and interfaith dialogue.

Describing several claims Uzun made in the book about himself as mere speculation, Baykal implied that President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, who was prime minister when the video footage was leaked, may have been involved in the plot.

At his party's Aksu district's meeting in Antalya Baykal said the book contains certain information regarding him that is totally wrong.

Baykal, who is now a deputy, also dismissed the claim that he called Gülen, who lives in Pennsylvania in the US, about the video footage, which was leaked shortly before his party's general congress. He said, “This is absolutely not true.”

Uzun also claimed in his book that a leading person in the Hizmet community brought a copy of the video footage to Baykal some time before its leak to earn his trust and give the impression that Hizmet was not involved in the plot, a claim which is denied by the former CHP leader.

Baykal denied the claim saying he was never given any copy of the video footage and was not informed about it before its being leaked.

Noting that it is not an issue which it is suitable to speculate on, Baykal said, “I call on everybody to speak based on solid evidence and to be serious.”

The video footage that showed Baykal with a female deputy from his party, who formerly served him as personal secretary, was leaked on May 6, 2010. The footage was first published by a news portal called habervaktim.com. Four days after the video's release, Baykal announced his resignation as chairman of the party.

The CHP's national congress was scheduled for May 22 the same year, and Baykal was hoping to be elected as chairman once again, if the video clip, which it is maintained dates back to 2002 or 2003, had not spoiled his plans.

Since the incident, Baykal has always put the responsibility on the ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party) for the video.

In the press meeting on May 10 that he held following the release of the video clip, Baykal said: “It is not possible for such a plot, conducted through violation of immunity of domicile and high technology, to be carried out in such a reckless manner against an opposition leader without using the power and resources available to the government.”

Most recently, Baykal implied that President Erdoğan may have also been involved in the plot. In a statement in August last year, former CHP leader said, “What if voice recordings, or videos, emerge some time in the future which indicate that a top state official instructed an official of a most sensitive [state] institution [regarding the video footage]?”

By a top state official and a state institution, Baykal obviously meant Erdoğan and the National Intelligence Organization (MİT) respectively.

CHP leader blames Erdoğan for plot against Baykal

Current CHP leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu also said, in February of last year, that the plot against Baykal was organized upon instructions by then-Prime Minister Erdoğan. The CHP leader even said he saw a video of Erdoğan watching Baykal's video on a computer.

Mahmut Tanal, a deputy from the CHP, maintained, in an interview with the Bugün daily on Sunday, that it was the ruling party which had plotted against Baykal.

Noting that the government has done nothing to shed light on the incident, Tanal said, “Because if a search had been conducted, that would have lead to the AK Party.”

He also added: “A prosecutor, a police officer who searches for this [connection] would be ruined [by the government].”

Former head of police intelligence Uzun claimed in his book that the five police officers involved in the plot were rewarded by being appointed to higher posts.

Baykal called on the government, at the CHP's Aksu congress, to go after the perpetrators and those behind the plot.

But he added, “But I see no effort in that direction.”

Uzun's claims based on hearsay

Uzun tries in his book to link Hizmet with various criminal acts based on statements by others without providing any evidence. Uzun's claims are being disproved by both official documents and reports that previously appeared in the media.

Uzun, who served for nearly six years as head of police intelligence, is known to have said in an official document in 2001 that there were no police officers in the police department who were affiliated with Hizmet.

Uzun contradicts himself when he accuses some of his colleagues who worked under him in the intelligence department of being involved in illegal acts, as he previously boasted about their successful operations.

Uzun also claims in the book that Hizmet-affiliated media outlets published reports that the grave of the grandfather of Yaşar Büyükanıt, a former chief of the General Staff, is in Israel and that he submitted a report to top state officials at the time.

In reality, it was an alleged voice recording between Şener Eruygur, a former commander of the gendarmerie, and his wife Mukaddes, which revealed that the mother of the former chief was Jewish, while his father was Turkish.

The voice recording revealed, if genuine, that the Eruygur couple learned about the issue from Israel's military attaché in Ankara.

The investigation into the case has gone nowhere fast due to frequent changes of prosecutors.

Published on Sunday's Zaman, 11 January 2015, Sunday