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POLITICS > Erdoğan sues Gülen-linked journalists, as one pundit briefly detained

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A columnist regarded as close to the Gülen movement was briefly detained in Ankara on March 29 as part of an investigation into the leak of a recording of top security officials discussing possible military action in Syria, while Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan filed several criminal complaints over alleged insults directed toward him.

Prosecutor Tekin Küçük reportedly ordered the arrest of Önder Aytaç, but the journalist was not at his house when the police raided it at night. Aytaç, who is also a scholar, later went to the police station himself and was detained there due to the "impression" that he had knowledge of the Syria meeting leak, semi-official Anadolu Agency reported. Aytaç was released after testifying.

Aytaç was a guest on Samanyolu television station March 26, claiming that the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) would invade Syria with "a limited operation" to reclaim the Süleyman Şah tomb from jihadist groups. "Everything is ready for the operation. This will be the biggest piece [of propaganda for the government before the March 30 local elections]," he said on the program.

The initial investigation has shown the person that leaked the recording is "an insider," ruling out the possibility of a foreign secret service's involvement, according to daily Hürriyet. No bugs were found at the meeting room in the Foreign Ministry. 

Turkish President Abdullah Gül slammed the leak as an “act of espionage” and vowed that those who carried out the wiretapping would be found and shown “no tolerance.” 

“Everything and everybody is being investigated in the most meticulous way,” Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu said March 28, describing the leak as a violation of confidentiality of the state of the Republic of Turkey.

'Usual suspects'

Erdoğan has filed a petition for lawsuit against Aytaç and Emre Uslu, another pundit close to the Gülen movement, claiming the two pundits are among the "usual suspects" in the espionage investigation.

Erdoğan has also sued Today's Zaman editor-in-chief, Bülent Keneş, and daily Zaman columnist Mehmet Kamış, stating in the petition that two journalists "mocked" his tired voice and "insulted" him on Twitter.

Former Istanbul police intelligence department head Ali Fuat Yılmazer is another individual who has been sued by Erdoğan.

In his petition, Erdoğan denied Yılmazer's recent claims that he gave an order to arrest former army chief Gen. İlker Başbuğ as part of the Ergenekon case and argued that Yılmazer "confessed to his crime" when he admitted that "all arrests were made by them [the police]" during the Ergenekon and Sledgehammer investigations. Erdoğan's lawyers have asked the court to issue a travel ban for Yılmazer, Uslu and Aytaç.

Gülen's green passport cancelled

Meanwhile, the governor's office of the eastern province of Erzurum has canceled the green passport of U.S.-based cleric Fethullah Gülen, citing irregularities. 

The leader of the Gülen movement benefited from the right to have a green passport in 1991, as a resigned public servant. Although a green passport is a special passport that allows the bearer to travel visa-free to certain countries, the United States is not on the list, hence Gülen's residence in the U.S. will not be affected by the decision. Gülen has to apply to a Turkish consulate in the U.S. to renew his passport as a standard one.

March/29/2014

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