One of them is not telling the truth, well which one? The Erdoğan - Yılmazer argument

One of them is not telling the truth, well which one? The Erdoğan - Yılmazer argument

The polemic and the accusation that occurred last week between a retired intelligence police executive and the prime minister, in which a prosecutor was also partially involved, constitute an amazing file in terms of the independence of the judiciary.

Reviewing the actors, the person who has triggered the debate is retired police deputy director Ali Fuat Yılmazer who was stationed in Istanbul in charge of intelligence between the years 2007 and 2011.

The second actor is Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. The third is Fikret Seçen, one of the former specially authorized prosecutors who was demoted to the position of the Gebze Prosecutor after the Dec. 17, 2013 process.

This is an interesting debate where question marks increase as the discussion progresses, especially because the statements of the first two are not consistent with each other. 

The debate erupted when Yılmazer spoke on a TV channel last Tuesday on March 18. His biggest disclosure was that, especially with the third wave of arrests which included the detention of Veli Küçük on Jan. 22, Prime Minister Erdoğan was directly informed at each stage of the Ergenekon investigation; that lists of arrests were forwarded to him in advance. Erdoğan had reportedly ordered the arrests of certain names. Yılmazer claimed the prime minister personally ordered that former Chief of Staff General İlker Başbuğ should “absolutely be arrested.” Yılmazer also said he was quite shocked when, after the arrest of Başbuğ, the prime minister stated that the commander should have been tried without being detained.

The second important point is Yılmazer said other major political cases were also processed with the prime minister’s approval. Hence, the KCK operations which included hundreds of arrests in Istanbul were also carried out with the “perspective taken from the prime minister.” Similarly, the investigation of the Odatv case, where journalists such as Soner Yalçın, Ahmet Şık and Nedim Şener were arrested, was launched upon a directive given personally by Erdoğan to himself.

The prime minister’s reply to these statements from Yılmazer was harsh. In a program at the state TRT channel the next day, Erdoğan, without naming him, described Yılmazer as a person who was below the average level of morals and without quality. He said the claims that he was informed before of all of the arrests in Ergenekon were “lies from A to Z.” He talked about “those certain prosecutors who carried out those known operations and who were now sent out of Istanbul.” He said, “Well, these people were best buddies with those prosecutors. They managed these deals together. All of these will of course be unveiled. He cannot save himself by resigning or by retiring.”

The next day on March 20, there was another statement from Yılmazer at daily Taraf, which moved the debate one step further. When the arrest of Başbuğ was in question, according to Yılmazer, the prime minister personally wanted to meet the acting chief prosecutor in charge of the file, Fikret Seçen. Then, Seçen went to see the prime minister together with Justice Minister Sadullah Ergin and received the directive “All right, fill this file, but he should absolutely be arrested.” Yılmazer claimed these dialogues were conveyed to him personally by Seçen.

The next day on March 21, Prosecutor Seçen, on the other hand, issued a statement saying there were interferences with the judiciary, but he did not fulfill these contradictory demands.” Seçen’s words could also be interpreted as an indirect confirmation of Yılmazer’s statements.

Yılmazer’s next move was on March 22 on a TV channel replying to the PM’s accusations against himself. Yılmazer stood behind his first statement, claimed the prime minister wanted to hide the truth and said, “The prime minister might have forgotten, but the issues we spoke about were not the kind one would forget.” Referring to Erdoğan’s words that he might have seen him maybe only two or three times, Yılmazer said, “Not counting the small meetings, there must have been no less than 30 or 40 meetings.”

Another critical disclosure from Yılmazer was that during the closure case targeting the Justice and Development Party (AK Party) in 2008, they again worked closely with the prime minister and as a result of the operation organized against the Labor Party, the AK Party was “saved from being shut down.”

The prime minister’s words and Yılmazer’s statements are not consistent with each other to a great extent. Both of them are accusing each other of “slander.” Well, which one is telling the truth?

Or, could it be that the truth is hiding somewhere between the lines?