Former Turkish military chief: I warned PM over Gülenist risk within police, judiciary
DHA PhotoFormer Chief of General Staff İlker Başbuğ has said he warned the prime minister, while on duty, about suspected activities of certain members of the Police Department and the judiciary who had taken actions against the Turkish Armed Forces (TSK) and who were apparently linked to the Gülen movement.
“When operations against the TSK conducted through the judiciary and the police began, we tried to investigate – within the bound of our possibilities - who was behind this operation,” Başbuğ said in an interview with the Star news station late on July 24, when asked whether he had shared any information on the “parallel state” with Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan when he was on duty.
“Information that we received from various places showed that a number of police chiefs at the Police Department were behind this plot operation in particular. In line with information that we received through various channels, we prepared a list about the Police Department. Of course, I shared our views and concerns with the prime minister on a few occasions and we presented a list of these police officers to him,” Başbuğ added.
Başbuğ served as the chief of General Staff from 2008 to 2010. After being detained in January 2012 as part of the ongoing Ergenekon coup plot case, he was released in early March upon a ruling from the Constitutional Court that his imprisonment was a “rights violation,” on the grounds that the detailed reasoning regarding his conviction was not issued until seven months after the verdict.
The ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) claims that supporters of former ally, U.S.-based Islamic scholar Fethullah Gülen, formed an alleged “parallel state” aimed at toppling the government, particularly through their posts in the judiciary and the police.
“As far as I remember, Ali Fuat Yılmazer was on the top of this list. He [Erdoğan] received it himself and said he would take care of it. But we couldn’t get any result, there was no development,” Başbuğ also said in the interview.
Yılmazer, a former Istanbul police intelligence department head, was among more than 100 police officers who have been detained so far as part of the two separate investigations held on July 22 and 23 in Istanbul and other cities, including the capital Ankara, İzmir and Diyarbakır.
Dozens of senior police officers suspected of being linked to the Fethullah Gülen movement, or what the government calls the “parallel state,” were detained on the grounds of espionage and illegal wiretapping, with Erdoğan indicating that the probes would be widened.
Back in March, Yılmazer suggested that it was Erdoğan who at the time gave the order to arrest Başbuğ, drawing a fierce denial from the prime minister.
“An immoral, indecent person says ‘It is the prime minister who demanded this arrest.’ These are lies from A to Z. These people are engaged in deception. How many times did you meet me?” said Erdoğan in an interview on March 19.
“He will pay the price for this,” he added, praising the releases at the time of top Ergenekon suspects in the aftermath of a Constitutional Court ruling. He also particularly recalled at the time that he had called in the past for the trial without detention of Başbuğ.