The Turkish prosecutors’ pyramid scheme

03 Mart 2011


(This is re-posted from Dani Rodrik’s website.)

Another bizarre set of police roundups today in Turkey: eleven people, mostly journalists, were subject to early morning house searches and reportedly issued arrest warrants.  Among those caught in the net is Nedim Şener, an award-winning reporter, who has done more than anyone else to shed light on official complicity in the plot that led to the assassination of Hrant Dink, the Turkish-Armenian journalist, in 2007. Three other journalists had been arrested in an earlier raid on the website OdaTV.

The detainees are being charged with membership in the Ergenekon Terror Organization, an alleged plot which, judging by the evidence prosecutors have so far adduced, is as imaginary as the ancient Turkic fable that lends its name to it.  As full of holes as the prosecutors’ case is, the latest charges about journalists go beyond the absurd.  They cannot possibly help the government’s case.  Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan, who has shown some signs of wanting to distance himself from these show trials, should be enraged.

So what is going on here?

I can only make sense of this is as the judicial equivalent of a financial pyramid scheme.  In a pyramid scheme (also called a Ponzi scheme), old investors are paid back by deposits from new investors.  So survival depends on an ever-growing group of new investors. Similarly, saving the Ergenekon trials requires a pyramid of ever-more sensational new cases to obfuscate previous misdeeds.

So, as the initial cases have dragged on, with no conclusion in sight after more than three years, prosecutors have had to bring up new cases, with evidence that looks more “solid” (mainly fabricated or planted documents describing operational plans in detail). The charges have become more sensational (spying, prostitution rings, downing of a fighter jet). When doubts about the evidence have surfaced, additional evidence has had to be dug up (through anonymous tips, of course). And when reporters have uncovered unpleasant facts about what the police and prosecutors are up to, prosecutors have had to charge them with being in cahoots with the Ergenekon conspiracy (as in the recent arrests).

Pyramid schemes do not unravel gradually; they collapse from one day to the next. This, in a way is the good news.

But when pyramid schemes collapse like a house of cards, it is not just those who concocted them that get badly hurt. The entire society suffers from the aftershock. The same is likely to be true of these judicial dirty tricks. That is the bad news.

See my piece on Turkey in the FT tomorrow for more on this.

Abone Ol

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16 Yorum “The Turkish prosecutors’ pyramid scheme”

  1. merttalay Says:

    Sorry but you say: “And when reporters have uncovered unpleasant facts about what the police and prosecutors are up to, prosecutors have had to charge them with being in cahoots with the Ergenekon conspiracy (as in the recent arrests).”

    What are these so-called “facts about what the police and prosecutors are up to? Who are the reporters who uncovered such “facts” and being charged by the prosecutors?

    I just need one example and one name.


  2. merttalay Says:

    And the “facts” they have uncovered are?


    • Can Acar Says:

      The link I posted above was there for a reason. It contains the list of journalists that have been taken into custody together with their brief resumes.

      Ahmet Şık was about to publish a book on the Gülen movement and their organization within the police force. Nedim Şener revealed that the same cops that are driving the Ergenekon investigation was negligent and responsible in the Hrant Dink murder. Here is the link from Nedim Şener about this latter claim:

      Enjoy …


      • merttalay Says:

        Very nice. Indeed here we have a journalist who likes to talk about “facts”. Let’s see some of the “facts” of this journalist:

        “Sahte bir takım belgeleri gerçekmiş gibi gösteren, bunları yandaşı medya kuruluşlarına servis edip dünyayı ayağa kaldıran ve bu yolla Irak’ı işgal eden Amerika önce kendi haline baksın. Amerika basın özgürlüğü konusunda söz söyleyecek son ülkedir.”

        In short, “the U.S. is the last country to say anything about freedom of press”.

        So here you have a guy who produces “facts” like this sentence and you tell me that I should buy his other “facts”?

        Really Enjoyable!


        • Can Acar Says:

          You “shortened” the translation a bit too much, but this is beside the point. Is it ok for you to put journalists in jail because you do not agree with their “facts”?

          The link also contains descriptions of how he got threatened after publishing these “facts”. More recent threats mentioned “Now it is your turn. We have been telling Soner [Yalçın], look what happened [he got arrested]. Is your bag ready, brother. Are your warm pajamas and woolen underwear ready?”. I do not know about you, but somebody seems to have taken his “facts” more seriously.

          You seem to have forgotten about Ahmet Şık by the way. You asked for one name, I gave you two. Now you think you discredited one of them. So?


          • merttalay Says:

            You neglect my point. The bloggers argue that (i) these journalists have uncovered some unpleasant facts (ii) and therefore got arrested.

            I ask: (i) What are these facts? (ii) What is the relation between these facts and their arrest?

            You send me a link where one of the suspects says he is going be to arrested soon and then connects this to the US, Iraq etc.

            What fact did Ahmet Sik uncover? I just know that his book was found in one other suspect’s computer.


            • Kemal Says:

              You just need one name and one example?


              I am not sure if the above address will be presented, in case not, check odatv for the news titled “Bu fotoğraflar olay yaratacak”…

              That is the cahoot that the authors are most likely referring too.

              Will this “one name and one example” will change anything in your side? I don’t think so. So why do you need one name and one example?


              • Kemal Says:

                I am sorry for the misleading phrase “That is the cahoot that the authors are most likely referring too.”…

                The author refers to the cahoot with the journalist and Ergenekon not the police and the prosecuters as I have stated above. However the above piece still answers your question. Odatv was the only source that many could reach in order to read “the other sides point of view”. By the way, I found this blog via odatv as well. So the odatv journalist uncovered some unpleasant facts (and made public the ones that this blog uncovered). That is to say,

                “…(i) these journalists have uncovered some unpleasant facts (ii) and therefore got arrested.”

                The confirmation of the second half of your statement would be speculation. It is upto you to believe if there is a link or not.

                On the other hand, regarding to Ahmet Şık, I have read the book he wrote together with Ertuğrul Mavioğlu. It was written earlier and the book is kind of positions itself as a fact list, who is who, what are the charges they are facing, etc… However, their introduction more or less states that even though there seems to be something -particularly to some of the names in the trial- there seems to be a motivation of rounding up the opposition (or usual supects) in the same bag with the others…


            • acracia Says:


              You obviously don’t know anything about Ahmet Şık and the kind of journalist that he is. Please follow the news on this; it would save you (and others) the time to ask rhetorical questions.

              As for other issues related to being a “suspect” in this case and evidence, here is a place to start:



              • acracia Says:

                In fact, I decided to post the entire text here, read the end first, and it will illuminate these “facts” for you. This is a statement from his lawyer.
                And just so that you know, Ahmet Şık published numerous articles defending the rights of Kurds, Metin Goktepe (the journalist who died under police custody in mid 1990s), the murdered Armenian journalist Hrant Dink, etc. If anything, he would be a man against Ergenekon. Not a member.

                And his lawyer claims it is because he was writing a book on the Gulen movement and its ties with the Police Department. I am not saying nor guessing it; Can Acar is not stating it out of the blue; it is his own lawyer’s statement.

                Just read, and spare us the time to answer any rhetorical questions please:

                ARRESTED OF AHMET ŞIK
                “Should Evidence Exist at all, It Has to Be Revealed!”

                Tora Pekin, lawyer of arrested journalist Ahmet Şık, claims that both the investigation about his client and his arrest lack concrete evidence. Otherwise, the way the file is handled by the prosecution would constitute a violation of the right to defence, Pekin said.

                Istanbul – BİA News Center 08 March 2011, Tuesday

                Lawyer Tora Pekin, legal advisor of journalist Ahmet Şık who was arrested in the scope of the Ergenekon investigation, told bianet that the council of the prosecution has not got any concrete evidence. If they had obtained admissible evidence on the other hand and hid that before the defence lawyers, this would constitute a violation of the right to defence, Pekin said.

                Ergenekon is the name of a clandestine organization charged with various crimes with the purpose to overthrow the government with a military coup.
                Pekin declared that the search decision lacked a concrete reason too and that the search had not been restrained.
                The Justice Minister, Sadullah Ergin, announced on Monday (7 March), “We do not know the contents of the file yet. The situation is different if there are other offences not related to journalism. A part of it was probably shown by the lawyers, but is there more to it?”
                Ergenekon Prosecutor Zerekiya Öz had previously stated that the investigation was not concerned with the writings of the journalists but related to “evidence that cannot be made public at this stage”.
                “They have to announce the reason for the arrest”

                Lawyer Pekin said that Şık was not prosecuted for an alleged membership of an illegal organization but for his activities as a journalist. Pekin announced the following points:

                * Allegations of “membership of the Eregekon terrorist organization” and
                “inciting the public to hatred and hostility” were the reasons given in the search decision. There was no other concrete reason given.

                * Şık made use of his right to refuse to give evidence. The allegation of

                “inciting the public to hatred and hostility” was cancelled when he was taken to the prosecutor. This change was not announced at all.

                * The reason for the arrest had to be definitely announced. However, also here they did not give any concrete reason. It is only mentioned as a reason that according to documents and information obtained in the course of the search of Oda TV, “evidence suggested a strong suspicion of guilt”.

                * The secrecy of an investigation is actually meant to protect the suspect. For this file, it is used the other way around.

                “Right to defence disregard”

                * As the most fundamental right to defence, a person must be informed about the allegations and evidence against him or her. There are only very few files that disregard the right to defence like that. We plan to appeal the arrest on Tuesday (8 March). One of the reasons for the appeal will be that we do not know the reason for the arrest.

                * There is no evidence in the file as claimed by Öz; and if there is, they did not show it to us. It is impossible to invalidate evidence that was not shown to us. It is also contrary to the law to conceal evidence from us if it is really there. If there is no evidence though, Öz conveyed wrong information to the public.

                “We do not talk as hypothetical as the Minister suggested”

                * It was published in the press what Prosecutor Öz asked in the investigation and which answers he received. Everybody can see that that these texts of the council of prosecution lack concrete evidence. What we say is not as hypothetical as suggested by Minister Ergin.

                * Prosecutor Öz said that he inquired about Şık’s alleged membership of an illegal organization but in fact the interrogation was about Şık’s journalistic activities. Şık would not be in prison today if he had not been working on a book about the Fetullah Gülen congregation leaking into the Police. (AS/VK)


  3. ihtimal Says:

    Yaz Dani Yaz. Hic durmadan yaz. Yazilarinin altinada kocaman Harvard profesoru diye yazki 5 yil sonra daha rahat gecelim seninle dalgamizi… Tayyip Amca’ya sivrisinek sokmasi bile olamazsin sen. heheheheh 🙂


    • Dramalı Rıza Says:

      Sayın Ihtimal,
      Ne kadar sıg bir yorum yazmışsınız inanılır gibi değil. Hiç bir karşı argüman veya bahsi geçen iddialara hiç bir elle tutulur cevap yok. Sadece bir gülücük. Bu arada size gelen sorulara (en azından benim sorduğum bir kaç tane vardı) cevap vermek de yok (veya mantıklı cevap vermek). Onun yerine böyle gülücüklü dalga geçmeler, “sivrisinek sokması bile olamazsın sen” diyerek de açıkcası bilinçaltınızda olan “intikam” güdünüzün dışa vurulmaları var, o kadar. Gerçekten sizi anlamaya imkan yok. Araştırma Bölümünde çalışan bir analist olarak sizin nasıl bir analist olabileceğinizi inanın düşünemiyorum. Elindeki veri setini her yönden analiz etmesş gereken bir kişinin sadece tek taraflı bir düşünceyle hareket ederek nasıl analist olabileceğini açıklarsanız sevinirim. Bu arada artık şuna kesin inandım ki sizin veya sayın Merttalay’ın bir yakını bile Ergenekon’dan içeri alınsa ve siz yüzde yüz o kişinin Ergenekonla ilişkili olmadığını bilseniz dahi, eminim siz o tutuklamaları bile savunursunuz.
      Dramalı Rıza


      • Jim_Beam_Black Says:

        Bu kişileri tarih, sivil darbe gerçekleştiren AKP iktidarını elleri patlayıncaya kadar alkışlayan darbe severler olarak yazacaktır, not düşülsün. Kenan Evren’in “Atatürk” adını ağzından düşürmeden onun bütün devrimlerini tek tek paramparça ettiği gibi, bu iktidar da “demokrasi” sözünü papağan gibi tekrarlayarak demokrasinin ve insan haklarının ırzına geçmektedirler. Dikkat ederseniz bu ihtimalcikler 12 Eylül ve AKP iktidarı arasında hiç bir fark bulunmamasına ilişkin herhangi bir yorum yapmamakta, sadece 1950 Menderes iktidarında kullanılan birebir aynı cümleler ile CHP’yi eleştirmektedirler. Yüzlerce kişinin sahte delillerle tutuklandığı bir davayla ilgili bilgileri açıklayan bir blogda CHP eleştirisi ve iktidar yalakalığının ne işi var diye sorarsanız eğer, bu şakirtçiklerin propaganda usullerini bu işin baş mimarı Joseph Goebbels’ten öğrendiklerini ve halka sürekli her şeyin suçlusu CHP’ymiş gibi gösterek yaptıkları zulüm ve faşizmi gizleyebileceklerini söyleyebilirim.


      • Jim_Beam_Black Says:

        Pardon sadece CHP değil, her şeyin sorumlusu 28 Şubat vardır bir de, hani bu şakirtçikler 8 sene ilköğretim okumak zorunda kalmışlardı da ortaokuldan imam hatiplere gidemedikleri için her cuma namazı çıkışlarında tekbir getirerek protesto etmişlerdi bu durumu. Tabi şu an yaptıkları 12 Eylül zulmünü haklı göstermek için “siz de 8 sene zorunlu eğitim getirdiniz” diyemedikleri için şimdi çeşitli basın organlarında “bize oruç tutmama emirleri verildi” gibi yalan yanlış tonlarca haber vererek kendileri o darbenin öcünü yeni bir darbe ile aldıklarını ifade etmektedirler. Nasılsa dezenformasyon çağındayız, yakında “28 Şubat’ta 12 Eylül’den daha çok insan idam edilmişti” gibi bir haber çıkarsa inanın hiç şaşırmam. Bakalım tarih AKP sivil darbesinin bilançosunu 12 Eylül iye kıyasladığında nasıl bir sonuç ortaya çıkacak merakla bekliyorum…


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