Anti-government plot document causes new stir
ANKARA – Hürriyet Daily News | 10/25/2009 12:00:00 AM |
Reports surfaced a few days ago that a letter together with the original copy of the alleged anti-government military document was sent to the prosecutor’s office by an anonymous army officer. With Turkish politicians and the media abuzz over the development, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said an initial analysis suggests the document is likely to be authentic
The original copy of a document allegedly prepared by military personnel to topple Turkey’s ruling government is likely to be authentic according to an initial analysis, the prime minister said Saturday.
The analysis was done when the document reached the prosecutor’s office. "The document is now in the hands of justice. We will do exactly what the courts ask of us. We will closely monitor developments," Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan told reporters Saturday aboard a plane to Pakistan. "The armed forces cannot accept such a blemish [if the allegations are proved to be true].”
Earlier in June, daily Taraf published an alleged military plan to take down the ruling Justice and Development Party, or AKP, alongside a religious movement lead by Fethullah Gülen. The document was recovered during a search conducted at the office of a suspect detained in the controversial Ergenekon probe and bore the signature of Col. Dursun Çiçek.
It was initially claimed that the General Staff prepared the document, but the General Staff strongly rejected the allegations. The AKP filed a petition with the Ankara Chief Prosecutor’s Office to pursue the matter.
Military prosecutors requested the document from the Ergenekon prosecutors and launched an investigation into the claims, concluding that the document was not prepared by any of its units. The military said its investigation revealed that the document outlining the plan was merely a copy and that an original was needed in order to reach a conclusion. It said there was no need for the military to investigate Çiçek due to lack of evidence.
Chief of General Staff Gen. İlker Başbuğ said after the military investigation that the document was prepared by those who sought to slander the Turkish military, describing the document as “a piece of paper.” He said it was impossible to reach a conclusion without the original document.
Çiçek, who was accused of being a member of the alleged Ergenekon organization, was detained shortly after testifying to the Ergenekon prosecutors. Çiçek was later released as a result of a court decision that said the photocopy could not be accepted as credible evidence.
[HH] Prosecutor denies; PM clarifies
The Turkish media was once more dominated by news of the contested document when reports surfaced a few days ago that a member of the military sent a letter and the original copy of the document, which carried Çiçek’s signature, to the Istanbul Chief Prosecutor’s Office. The office is said to have sent the document to a forensics lab for examination, which reportedly confirmed on Wednesday that the signature on the original document was Çicek's handwriting.
Responding to questions from the press on Friday, Istanbul Chief Prosecutor Aykut Cengiz Engin said the investigation was confidential and that the office had no such document.
But speaking to the press before his departure to Pakistan on Saturday, Erdoğan said: “The document is now in the hands of justice. The document reached to the prosecutor office with a letter sent by an anonymous military officer. It is stated that it is likely to be the original document. In its report, the forensics lab also confirms this statement. The process is ongoing.”
[HH] Military reacts to methodology
The chief of General Staff, meanwhile, reacted harshly to the leak of the alleged original document and report to the media.
“It is very worrisome that developments on the letter and the document took place in the media first, in terms of the authority of the state,” the chief of General Staff said in a written statement, which was posted on the General Staff’s Web site late Saturday.
The statement also emphasized that the tone of the coverage varied widely among different media outlets.