GeriGündem Turkey's gang probe widens, more opponents detained
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Turkey's gang probe widens, more opponents detained

Two former army commanders, a journalist and a leader of a business group were taken into custody under the Ergenekon operation, as the new custodies revived the debates that the AKP government uses the case to suppress its opponents. Ergenekon operation, which started last year, had geared up since the closure case against the AKP was filed and accuses retired commanders, journalists and opponent politicians with suspected links to an illegal gang which was accused of paving the way to a military coup. (UPDATED)

Ret. Gen. Sener Eruygur and Ret. Gen. Hursit Tolon, as well as the Chairman of the Chamber of Trade in Ankara Sinan Aygun and anti-AKP Cumhuriyet daily’s Ankara bureau chief Mustafa Balbay are among those who were taken into custody.    

 

Hundreds of people gathered in front of Cumhuriyet daily's building in Istanbul to protest the detainments.

 

Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan said 20 people were taken into custody in Tuesday's operation, while police search for another four.

 

The common point of those names is that they are among the fiercest opponents of the government. Tolon and Eruygur started to work for a non-governmental organization, which operates against the anti-secular activities.       

 

Official searches were carried out by police in the early hours of Tuesday at the homes of Cumhuriyet employees and members of the Kemalist Thought Association (ADD), of which Eruygur is the head.

 

The Ergenekon operation is underway for months; however, the legal process has yet to start as the indictment of the case is not prepared. Erdogan has previously said the closure case was a response to the government’s determination in the Ergenekon operation, while some others claim that the government uses Ergenekon to suppress its opponents.

 

In Ankara, Erdogan told reporters the government expects the case to be concluded "as soon as possible." "I think these detainments are a step forward to conclude the indictment of the case," Erdogan said.

 

The Anatolian Agency said the indictment of the case is expected to be submitted by the weekend. 

 

The timing of the new round of Ergenekon operation detainments raised eyebrows in Turkey. On Tuesday the chief prosecutor, Abdurrahman Yalcinkaya, is set to deliver his verbal arguments in the closure case against the AKP.

 

Also the new round came after the meeting between Erdogan and the Commander of Land Forces Gen. Ilker Basbug and before the appointments of the new commanders in the army, scheduled at the end of August.

 

 

"NECESSARY PERMISSIONS TAKEN"

Cumhuriyet daily columnist Cuneyt Arcayurek and lawyer Lutfuhan Karagozoglu, representing the newspaper, said documents belonging to journalist Mustafa Balbay were confiscated by police and taken to Istanbul.

 

"Three computers, two of them portable computers, and some CD's are taken," Karagozoglu said in a joint press conference with Arcayurek.

 

Arcayurek also stressed the timing of the operation and said question marks are raised as it coincides with Turkey's top prosecutor presenting his verbal testimony in the closure case against the ruling AKP in the Constitutional Court.   

 

Karagozoglu also said although the investigation decision was taken on June 29, conducting the police operation today raises suspicions and implies a coincidence with the top prosecutor presenting his testimony.

 

In a response to Cumhuriyet's claims that the prosecutors intentionally waited two days to coincide the detainments with the verbal indictment in the closure case, the Defense Minister said it took time to organize all the required permissions.

 

Vecdi Gonul was referring to the permission of the Turkish Armed Forces as Tolon was taken into custody from the army housing facilities.

 

 

OTHER DETAINMENTS

 

Retired colonel Atilla Ugur and Osman Gurbuz were also taken into custody by police in the southern province of Antalya, TV channels reported. Former AKP deputy, Turhan Comez, who was an opponent of Erdogan are sought by police. Ret. Brigadier General Levent Ersoz was also detained.

 

Aygun told reporters he has been accused for his devotion to Ataturk and the Turkish Republic, on arrival at his office under police escort where a search was carried out. 

 

Editor-in-chief of daily "Halka ve Olaylara Tercuman", Ufuk Buyukcelebi, was also detained in Istanbul. Police searched Buyukcelebi's office at the daily's headquarters and seized some documents. 

 

In March, a week after the closure case was filed, in another operation under Ergenekon Cumhuriyet daily’s editor in chief Ilhan Selcuk and a leftist party leader, Dogu Perincek, were taken into custody. Selcuk was released two days later, while Perincek is still in custody.

 

The new round of detainments is likely to increase the tension further. The AKP argues this operation aimed to crackdown an organization which seeks a military coup and a step to strengthen democracy further, while many observers say the Ergenekon operation goes beyond its initial objectives and is being used as an instrument to suppress the opponents of the government. Critics also say the detainments and methods used in the Ergenekon operation remind of the events that occurred during the military coup in 1980.

 

 

 


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