Foreign intel agencies behind Gülenists: former minister

Foreign intel agencies behind Gülenists: former minister

Foreign intel agencies behind Gülenists: former minister A former police chief and interior minister, Mehmet Ağar, has told a parliamentary commission investigating the July 15 coup attempt that all illegal organizations, like the Gülenist network, have had links with foreign intelligence services.

“Every secret organization in Turkey has foreign links. Usually, those links involve foreign intelligence services,” Mehmet Ağar told the commission on Oct. 20.

Ağar did not detail which foreign services were behind the Gülenist network blamed for the July coup attempt. Attending the commission, Ağar indicated that while struggling against illegal organizations, mistakes could cause sympathizers to become militants.

“When operating a struggle against such organizations, the main purpose should be to cancel this organization out, and to develop necessary measures to inhibit their re-emergence,” he said. “Sympathizers should be given an opportunity to be rehabilitated and to return. If there are problems in investigations about them, they will become militants.”

Leftist were harmless

During his statement, Ağar made interesting remarks about leftists that he had pursued for most of his career as a police chief. 

“When I was an intelligence officer, I used to think it was Russia which backs the leftist organizations. It seems that the USSR only supported the TKP [Communist Party of Turkey]. It was the West behind those organizations,” he said.

“After all, leftist organizations, as opposed to what we were thinking, were harmless people who never even took a knife to their hands. We have to accept that they were decent, intelligent people,” he said. “When the USSR collapsed, the support for the TKP ended. We exaggerated the prejudice that leftists were involved in violence.”

Ağar was the interior minister in different governments in the late 1990s. He was later tried for his relations with illegal structures within the state that are thought to be responsible for a score of murders, including Kurdish businessmen and leftist politicians, and was found guilty in 2012 of charges of establishing an illegal armed organization to commit crime and his relations with prominent members of the mafia. He is currently one of the prominent suspects of a case into extrajudicial killings and the forced disappearances of political figures between 1993 and 1996. 

Former top soldier did not attend coup attempt commission

The other name which the commission was set to listen, the former chief of General Staff İlker Başbuğ, who was one of the most vocal against the Gülenist network and who was imprisoned on charges of being the leader of a terrorist organization on fabricated evidence, did not attend the commission.

The head of the commission Reşat Peker, a lawmaker from the Justice and Development Party (AKP), stated that Başbuğ was excused for the session of Oct. 20 but that the commission would set another date to listen to him.

Başbuğ served as chief of General Staff between 2008 and 2010 before retiring from the army. Months after his retirement, he was taken under investigation within the scope of the Ergenekon trials, a series of trials where alleged members of a suspected organization, Ergenekon, were accused of plotting against the Turkish government. Başbuğ was sentenced to life for plotting against the government and leading an armed terrorist group. Later, he was acquitted on the grounds that the local court could not provide a reasoned decision concerning the conviction. In April 2016, the country’s highest appeals court decided to overturn the local court’s convictions on the ground that prosecutors were unable to prove the existence of the Ergenekon organization.