Turkish court summons former top commander to testify over 2007 ‘e-memorandum’

Turkish court summons former top commander to testify over 2007 ‘e-memorandum’

Turkish court summons former top commander to testify over 2007 ‘e-memorandum’ Turkish prosecutors have summoned former chief of General Staff Gen. Yaşar Büyükanıt to present his testimony in his capacity as a “suspect” as part of an investigation into the April 27, 2007, “e-memorandum” case.

The Ankara Chief Prosecutor’s Office sent an instruction to the Istanbul Chief Prosecutor’s Office to have Büyükanıt’s testimony taken, the state-run Anadolu Agency reported on Dec. 4.

The instruction, which had “the e-memorandum” as an attachment, was signed by a prosecutor from the Bureau for Crimes Against the Constitutional Order. No charges have been directed against Büyükanıt yet and he was asked to present his “defense” in the instruction sent to Istanbul last week, the Anadolu Agency underlined, noting the former top commander was expected to give his testimony to the Istanbul Chief Prosecutor’s Office next week.

The “e-memorandum” posted on the military’s website around midnight on April 27, 2007, was the first episode in a chain of events that plunged Turkey into political turmoil and forced early elections. In the statement, the army threatened to step in to protect Turkey’s secular system. Hours later, the Turkish parliament held an inconclusive, first-round vote to elect a new president. At the time, Foreign Minister Abdullah Gül was the sole candidate. The ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) won comfortably and the new parliament elected Gül in August of that year.

At the time, Büyükanıt said he “personally wrote” the memorandum. The investigation by the Ankara Chief Prosecutor’s Office was launched in 2012 upon a complaint filed by the leader of the Justice Platform, Adem Çevik, who also filed complaints concerning the Sept. 12, 1980, military coup d’état and the “Feb. 28 process” that eventually led to the notorious military intervention of Feb. 28, 1997, often described as a “post-modern coup.”

Çevik had given his testimony to the Ankara Chief Prosecutor’s Office in June 2015, three years after the launch of the investigation.

In 2012, giving his testimony at parliament’s Coup and Memorandum Investigation Commission, Büyükanıt said the Turkish Armed Forces’ (TSK) “e-memorandum” in 2007 was not a threat against democracy. 

“[The message of] April 27 [2007] is not a memorandum. It is a text which displays the sensitivity over secularity,” he was quoted as saying at the time.

President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan held a closed meeting with Büyükanıt at the historical Dolmabahçe Palace, where Erdoğan had an office as the-then prime minister, on May 4, 2007, only seven days after the infamous “e-memorandum.”

Erdoğan had said the meeting was going to be kept secret by both sides “until the apocalypse.” 

Generally having described the meeting at Dolmabahçe as “routine,” during his testimony before the parliamentary commission in November 2012, when asked by a commission member, “whether the Dolmabahçe meeting was a state secret,” Büyükanıt replied: “I cannot say it is state secret, but I cannot say it is not a state secret either.”