ANKARA – Hürriyet Daily News
The military on Friday repeated its request to the government to find the perpetrators of a fake document attributed to a high-ranking officer that outlined a scheme to topple the ruling party.
“The Turkish Armed Forces [TSK] is expecting the identification and prosecution of the people who purposely produced this alleged document and leaked it to the media, and it is closely following the developments,” military spokesman Brig. Gen. Metin Gürak told reporters Friday at a weekly press conference.
In June, daily Taraf published a four-page document allegedly prepared by Col. Dursun Çiçek that detailed a plan to overthrow the ruling Justice and Development Party, or AKP, and one of the party’s key supporters, the Fethullah Gülen religious movement.
The military, after a comprehensive investigation, denied that the document belonged to Çiçek, who was arrested by civilian prosecutors. The case was taken to court, but it remains unclear who was behind the document.
In the first press conference after a two-month hiatus, Gürak was accompanied by Chief of General Staff Secretary-General Maj. Gen. Ferit Güler and judge advocate Brig. Gen. Hıfzı Çubuklu.
“We felt the need to make this statement in order to correct some media reports on this issue and to reconfirm our determination that we’re closely following this case,” Çubuklu told reporters.
Çubuklu also discussed the deaths of four soldiers as a result of a lieutenant’s decision to punish a soldier who had fallen asleep during guard duty. He said Lt. Mehmet Türker was arrested immediately after the incident and that he would face trial on Sept. 14.
Regarding a recently approved law that paves the way for the prosecution of high-ranking officers in civilian courts, Çubuklu recalled that the main opposition party’s application to the Constitutional Court for its annulment. “We have to wait for the court’s decision,” he said.
The chief of General Staff’s declaration of the motto “strong army, strong Turkey” also made the press conference’s agenda. Culture Minister Ertuğrul Günay and liberal columnists criticized the military for embracing the motto, which they say puts the military before the country.
“For us, it’s not very important which one is in front because the concepts of ‘strong army’ and ‘strong Turkey’ are interdependent,” he said. “In the case of a weak army, one cannot talk about a strong Turkey. Similarly, in a weak Turkey, one cannot argue about a strong army.”
He also hinted that Turkey’s military presence in Afghanistan would be increased when it resumes regional command of NATO’s International Security Assistance Force, or ISAF, as of Nov. 1.
While the military’s fight against the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party, or PKK, continues, Güler said 31 terrorists escaped from the organization and surrendered to the military in the past two months. Eleven were released and 10 were released pending trial without arrest, he said.