Frederike Geerdink brings to our attention a piece in Today’s Zaman by Etyen Mahçupyan which demonstrates, as Geerdink puts it, that Mahçupyan “kinda lost his mind.” Mahçupyan puts down Western journalists who have been critical of Erdogan for demonstrating a “categorical bias” that is “reminiscent of Breivik.” It is frightening that one of Turkey’s leading intellectuals can no longer distinguish between journalists and mass-murdering psychopaths.
The other thing Mahçupyan appears to have lost is any connection to the facts of the Balyoz/Sledgehammer case, for what he writes about it is utter nonsense. Referring to the London Times article which showed that the Sledgehammer case is based on doctored evidence, he makes two claims. First, that the originals of some of the coup plot documents have been found, and second, that the anachronisms in the documents can be explained by the fact that they were updated in subsequent years. Both claims are patently false.
Here is Mahçupyan:
“However, it has been months since the accusation concocted by the daughter and son-in-law of the number-one suspect in the plot was invalidated. The originals of some documents previously described as “modified” and their copies were found under the floor in a room where classified information was stored in an army building in Gölcük. The Times says that an association referred to in a 2002 document was founded in 2006, and that one of the suspects was in Britain when the coup was being planned, but these are not contradictions. There is a simple explanation: The documents pointing to the existence of the coup plan have been updated on a regular basis since 2003.
The most disgusting part of the Times piece is when the author quotes the views of Gareth Jenkins. Jenkins argues that either the authors of the documents had a time machine or that the documents were fabricated. Apparently either he is still living in the time period when he wrote his article, or he does not want to accept the fact that the evidence revealed after his article was published invalidated what he had written before. The authors of the documents do not need a time machine because they are still alive and continuing to update the documents as new evidence is discovered.”
Mahçupyan’s assertion that “the originals of some documents … were found … in an army building in Gölcük” has no basis in fact. All the Gölcük documents that relate to Sledgehammer (and related operations) are digital Word documents located on electronic media (a CD or a hard drive removed from use). Many of them are identical digital copies of the earlier documents. None of these are printed documents with signatures, finger prints, or any other authenticating features. (The Gölcük find does include some paper documents, but these do not relate to Sledgehammer and are not part of the indictments.)
Mahçupyan’s claim that the anachronisms we and others have identified are due to the updating of the original documents is nothing short of absurd. The metadata of all these documents show “last saved” dates from 2002-2003.* The usernames belong to officers on duty in 2003, many of whom have long since retired. The “creation date” of the CDs that contain the documents – recorded in a single session, with no subsequent re-write – is 2003. The names of the officers underneath the documents are those from 2003.
Suppose for an instance that Mahçupyan is right and that the coup plans were updated in subsequent years, say in 2009. This scenario requires us to believe that the officers who updated the documents would (a) alter the system clock of the computers on which they worked to make it look like the documents were last saved in 2003; (b) replace the username on their computers with those of officers on duty back in 2003 to make it look like they were the ones who last saved them; (c) keep the names of the “original” officers on the documents; (d) update only occasional entries, while leaving the bulk of the outdated information (such as references to contemporaneous events in 2003) untouched; and (e) burn the “updated” files on a CD using a computer whose system clock has once again been manipulated to show 2003.
If you are able to convince yourself that all this makes sense, instead of drawing the obvious inference that these documents were in fact produced in later years but made to look like they date from 2003, you have lost all reason.
Mahçupyan seems unaware that his theory also flies in the face of the indictments. Since the only “evidence” of authenticity that the prosecutors can present is the dates and usernames in the metadata, they have based their charges on the claim that the metadata are correct and the CDs and documents date in fact from 2003. In other words, the indictment itself is inconsistent with the files having been updated. If the prosecutors were to now change their line to Mahçupyan’s, they would have to accept that the metadata have been manipulated and account for who did it and why – as well as explain why they think the defendants are guilty even though someone else has clearly put their names on the files.
We had previously discussed at greater length why the updating hypothesis doesn’t hold water, to which the interested reader can turn for more information (in Turkish).
It is one thing to get your facts as wrong as Mahçupyan. It is yet another to put journalists such as Alex Christie-Miller and Gareth Jenkins in the same basket as Breivik. He owes them (and his readers) a big apology.
* Among the hundreds of digital documents found in Gölcük, a single one was originally reported to carry a 2008 date in its metadata. The source of this information turned out to be a recording error the police made in its report. The actual metadata of the document in question shows the date to be “19 February 2003.” See here.