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Police chief talks on live TV about claims against Gülen community

ISTANBUL - Hürriyet Daily News | 8/26/2010 12:00:00 AM | ŞAFAK TİMUR

A police chief in the spotlight for his claims about the political influence of a religious group has addressed the issue for the first time on live TV.

A police chief in the spotlight for his claims about the political influence of a controversial religious group with which he has close ties addressed the issue for the first time in a live TV interview Thursday.

“I am not against the activities of the [Gülen] community. It is beneficial to society, especially with its activities on education. I am against them investigating crimes as they come into [positions in the] police and judicial houses,” Hanefi Avcı told the private news channel NTV.

In his book “Haliç’te Yaşayan Simonlar: Dün Devlet Bugün Cemaat” (‘Devotee’ Residents of Haliç: Yesterday State, Today Religious Congregation), Avcı alleged that members of the religious Fethullah Gülen movement have infiltrated the police force and other state departments, including the military and the judiciary. He also claimed they are using these positions to gather information about officials they dislike to use against them in the future and said he was one of the people illegally wiretapped while he was the police chief of the western province of Eskişehir.

Avcı announced on NTV at around 11 a.m. that he had petitioned the Interior Ministry to call him back to Ankara, a routine procedure for public officials who are being investigated. It was announced Thursday afternoon that his request was granted.

The Interior Ministry, Justice Ministry and the Ankara Public Prosecutor’s Office launched separate investigations into Avcı and into the allegations in his book after its publication.

Avcı has been open about the fact that he has close friends in the Gülen community and his children were educated in a Gülen school in Turkey, one of the many private schools the community – led by U.S.-based Fethullah Gülen – runs around the world.

The police chief said he spoke to some figures in and close to the community about his allegations before the book was published to warn them that he would reveal their wrongdoings if the claims were not addressed. “I believe my message arrived to Fethullah Gülen; the reverse is unthinkable. They told me they would transmit what I told them to the necessary [people],” he said. “However, around two months passed and I did not receive any response. When we look at the current developments, we can say they have not made any changes at all.”

Responding to criticisms that he did not present any evidence in his book to support his allegations, Avcı said that by law, he does not have the authority to collect evidence, something that is the job of prosecutors. “The book has many pieces of evidence and I have enough evidence as well. If I had added all of them to the book, many volumes would have been needed,” he said.

“I tried to simplify what I wrote to keep people from getting scared,” Avcı added, noting that he would share any documents or other evidence with prosecutors if asked.

Avcı was previously known for testifying during the investigations that followed the Susurluk accident in 1996, which exposed links between the police, mafia and politicians. After a car accident Oct. 3, 1996, in the town of Susurluk, in the northwestern province of Balıkesir, a former police chief, high-profile criminal Abdullah Çatlı and Sedat Bucak, a Kurdish landlord and deputy from the True Path Party, or DYP, were all found in the crashed vehicle, along with several weapons and identity cards.

Responding to criticisms that he wrote the book about the Gülen community for personal benefit, Avcı said he understood after the Susurluk period that he had no future in his profession. In 1997, he testified to the parliamentary commission founded to look into the scandal; one year later, he was arrested for disclosing telephone numbers of National Intelligence Organization, or MİT officials. Avcı was subsequently released and returned to work.

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