10 released in alleged mass wiretapping case
ISTANBUL – Anadolu AgencyAn Istanbul court has ordered the release of 10 of 45 suspects in a case into the alleged wiretapping of hundreds of lawmakers and civil servants and the creation of a fake terrorist group publicly known as “Selam Tevhid.”
Seven former police chiefs and three soldiers among a total of 122 suspects, 67 of whom had been on trial without arrest, were released upon a ruling by the Istanbul 14th Court for Serious Crimes in the case filed into the alleged wiretapping of 7,000 lawmakers, civil servants, journalists, academics and others, including Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu and Hakan Fidan, the head of Turkey’s National Intelligence Agency, over three years starting from 2011.
The main suspect in the case is U.S.-based Islamic scholar Fethullah Gülen, who has long been accused by leading Justice and Development Party (AKP) lawmakers, Erdoğan and the president’s inner circle of forming and heading a terrorist organization to topple the Turkish government through insiders at the police and other state institutions.
The 10 suspects, including three soldiers, six police officers and the former head of the Van Police Department, were released following a two-day court hearing that started Feb. 1.
The total 122 suspects, including journalist Emre Uslu and former police chiefs, namely Yurt Atayün and Ömer Köse, are on trial based on a 10,529-page indictment prepared by Istanbul Deputy Chief Public Prosecutor İrfan Fidan. The suspects are charged with one account each of “attempting to topple the government of the Republic of Turkey and preventing it from fully or partially conducting its duties.”
Some 48 of them – including Gülen, Uslu, Atayün and Köse – are also charged with “obtaining and revealing confidential state data for political espionage purposes” and face penal servitude for life.
Gülen, Uslu and Atayün are also charged with “forming or heading an armed terrorist organization,” “violating the right to privacy,” “obtaining personal data illegally,” “forgery of official documents” and “effacing, concealing or altering criminal evidence.” The charges carry penalties of up to 67 years in prison, while other suspects in the case face jail sentences of varying time periods.
Some 968 people were stated in the indictment of the case as plaintiffs, including Erdoğan, Davutoğlu, several ministers, as well as high-ranking Turkish civil servants.
Uslu once hit headlines when Turkish dailies Akşam, Güneş and Star printed a fake story of an assassination plot against Erdoğan’s daughter, Sümeyye Erdoğan, with the three dailies claiming that Uslu and former main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) MP Umut Oran exchanged Twitter messages that discussed the assassination plot.
Upon an investigation into the claim, an indictment prepared by the Istanbul Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office said the Twitter messages between Uslu and Oran were entirely fabricated in an endeavor to clumsily manufacture evidence.