FETÖ members face prison terms over plots against Turkey’s intelligence agency

MIT President Hakan Fidan attends an event with President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, in the capital Ankara, Turkey, Jan. 6, 2020. (AA Photo)

Prosecutors in two cases are seeking hefty prison terms for 31 defendants linked to the Gülenist Terror Group (FETÖ) who conspired against the National Intelligence Organization (MIT).

On Thursday in Istanbul, prosecutors presented their final arguments pertaining to a plot to detain the intelligence service’s director and asked for aggravated prison terms for defendants, including former police chiefs associated with the terrorist group. In the southern province of Adana, a court accepted the indictment of the terrorist group members in the notorious “MIT trucks case.”

The trial in Istanbul is related to an incident on Feb. 7, 2012, which came to be known as the “MIT plot.” In what investigators call the first attempt to harm the government, FETÖ-linked prosecutors and police officers tried to question and subsequently detain MIT Director Hakan Fidan on the day.

MIT, which plays a key role in bringing members of the terrorist group to justice following the organization’s July 15, 2016, coup attempt, has frequently been targeted by FETÖ, which tried to infiltrate the intelligence service as it did the military, law enforcement and judiciary.

The 2012 incident was a plot to establish a link between the intelligence service and the PKK terrorist group through a sham investigation concocted by FETÖ-linked prosecutors and police chiefs.

Fidan did not go to the courthouse to testify, upon the instructions of then-Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, narrowly escaping an arrest which could have triggered a crisis. Leaked audio recordings of conversations between MIT officials and PKK members, known as the “Oslo talks,” made the headlines shortly before the attempt to arrest Fidan. The talks were originally part of the government’s “reconciliation process” designed to put an end to PKK violence. However, the leaked tapes ended up being fodder for anti-government propaganda, with FETÖ-linked media outlets claiming a collaboration between the PKK and the government.

At the hearing in Istanbul on Thursday, prosecutors asked judges to sentence nine defendants including former police chiefs Ali Fuat Yılmazer and Yurt Atayün to aggravated life imprisonment for an attempt to overthrow the government and sought lesser prison terms for four other defendants for membership in a terrorist group. Atayün and Yılmazer had already been imprisoned on other charges regarding FETÖ’s wrongdoings. A separate trial will be held for some fugitive defendants in the case, including the terrorist group’s leader, Fetullah Gülen.

In Adana, a court accepted the indictment against 18 defendants in another case involving MIT. The defendants included the FETÖ handlers of the group’s infiltrators in the military who face life imprisonment for their role in the controversial raid of the intelligence service’s trucks.

In January 2014, prosecutors affiliated with FETÖ ordered gendarmerie officers, also linked to the group, to stop a convoy of trucks belonging to MIT on its way to Syria, despite government orders to let them pass, in Adana and Hatay provinces. The supplies in the trucks were seized and the MIT agents were handcuffed and detained, with the incident causing an uproar. Last year, a court ruled that the incident was a plot planned and executed by FETÖ “to harm the state” by disclosing activities of the intelligence service. A separate investigation was launched into Can Dündar, the journalist who published the photos of the trucks’ content, for his role in the plot. The investigators say the MIT truck case was an attempt to discredit the intelligence service and tarnish the government’s image by accusing it of supplying arms to rebels in Syria.

The indictment accepted Thursday implicates the defendants in a slew of offenses, including attempting to overthrow the government and obtaining confidential information for political and military espionage.

The indictment states that Fetullah Gülen directly ordered infiltrators in the army to plan and execute the plot.