Why do we accuse the Gülen movement?

21 Mayıs 2012


Nearly two years ago in the early days of the Sledgehammer affair, we asked a long-time Turkish analyst who could be behind the fake documents on which the case rests.  He replied without batting an eyelid: “It’s the cemaat [Gülenists].” “How can you know?” we asked.  “It’s as obvious as the sun rising from the east and setting in the west,” he replied.

We found this odd. Reaching conclusions like this without solid evidence is not how we try to understand what is happening. At the time we still had lots of questions about the identity of the culprits who had fabricated the coup plot documents. We had no reason to think that the Gülenists may be involved. In the first piece in English we published on the topic (in April 2010), this is how we put it:

“We do not know who is behind the attempt to frame Dogan and the other retired officers involved in the case. Some point to Fethullah Gülen, a Turkish religious leader based in the United States with a vast network of supporters, whom they suspect of fomenting anti-secular activities. Others, in the Turkish press, implicate a conspiracy by clandestine paramilitary groups aimed at muddying the waters and covering their own tracks. Some, implausibly, even see the finger of the CIA.”

It has been more than two years since.  Much has happened in the Sledgehammer case. We have observed in the interval how the prosecutors and the court repeatedly turned a blind eye to the mountain of evidence showing the coup plot is a fabrication. We have lived through the vicious campaign of disinformation and defamation waged by the Gülen movement’s leading spokesmen against the defendants. We have also had the chance to examine similar instances of evidence panting and forgery in other (Ergenekon) cases.

Now we are able to reach a more definite judgment. We can assert clearly that the culprits are closely associated with the police and prosecutors, and, even if not directly part of the Gülen network, at the very least receive vital support from it.

We don’t say this because we are paranoid about Gülenists and “look for them under every stone.” We say this because that’s where the facts and evidence lead us. In other words, we are making an empirical inference.

The shortest and most direct route for linking the forgery mafia to the Gülen network is to look at the Gülenist daily Zaman. This paper’s coverage of the Sledgehammer and Ergenekon trials could be a case study of disinformation in the extreme. It reminds us of Pravda’s coverage of Soviet-American relations during the cold war. Just as Pravda easily crossed the line between truth and falsehood in support of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, Zaman spares no effort to back up the forgers’ mafia.

To be clear, we are not simply complaining that Zaman takes sides.  We are saying that the paper consistently and repeatedly prints false and misleading accounts to discredit the defendants in the Sledgehammer and Ergenekon cases. It not only presumes the defendants guilty, it manufactures lies against them. It routinely covers up evidence of forgery and prosecutorial misdeeds.

We have provided plenty of examples in this blog. We have documented how Zaman published false and manipulative articles on the Sledgehammer CDs, on experts’ reports, on the defendants, on police actions, and indeed about one of us (Dani). In several instances, Zaman had to remove or correct articles on their web site after we pointed to the egregious errors they contained.

Consider the range and extent of Zaman’s manipulations. Early on, the paper published the Sledgehammer plan with great fanfare, but took care to censor a glaring anachronism in the text that points to its forged nature. It repeatedly reported that TUBITAK (the national scientific organization) had verified the authenticity of the “signatures” on the Sledgehammer documents – when in fact TUBITAK has done no such thing since there are no signatures on the documents to verify.  Later, it asserted that the writing on the Sledgehammer CDs belonged to one of the defendants – when even the prosecutors have made no such claim. (When two experts subsequently demonstrated that the writing is machine-produced and hence a forgery, the paper remained silent.)  It fantasized about Dani being appointed minister of the economy following the Sledgehammer coup. When American and Turkish experts uncovered references to Microsoft Office 2007 elements in documents and CDs purportedly prepared in 2003, the paper didn’t print a word about it except to try to discredit the reports.

The paper’s editor has blatantly lied in order to deny documented evidence that police planted incriminating records on an Ergenekon defendant’s phone. The editor of the paper’s English-language sister publication (Today’s Zaman) once insisted it was “impossible” for the Sledgehammer documents to be fake, and argued, with a straight face, that it is up to the defendants to explain the hundreds of anachronisms and inconsistencies in them.

For Zaman’s editors and columnists, it hardly matters whether their opponents’ arguments have any validity or are based on fact. Anyone criticizing the cases before the specially authorized courts is necessarily “watering down and discrediting” these vital cases and is a defender of military coups and military. Any allegation, right, wrong, or fabricated, that strengthens the police and prosecutors’ case, meanwhile, is worth publishing.

Zaman is recognized as the Gülen network’s media flagship. There is little doubt that its leading columnists (names such as Gülerce, Dumanlı, Keneş, and Korucu) reflect the views of the movement. Therefore we do not think we are unfair by attributing these tactics directly to the Gülen network.

Some may argue that Gülenists badly want the Sledgehammer charges to be true and that this colors their treatment of the subject. But there is much more than that in Gülenist publications. We see in these writings not just the reflex to protect the forgers’ mafia, but beyond that an embrace of its cause.

Moreover, we have also concrete evidence that links Gülenists with forgery. It is now widely known that Gülenists have a history of fabricating evidence and framing individuals they target. Probably the best documented instance transpired in an air force base in Kayseri. Following instructions from his Gülenist mentors, a non-commissioned officer (NCO) had planted forged documents on military computers to implicate the base commander. He was caught and confessed to military prosecutor Zeki Üçok. Üçok subsequently found himself the target of an intense harassment campaign and ended up in jail on manifestly fabricated charges. The NCO and his accomplices were cleared on the basis of a ridiculous medical report (obtained more than a year later) suggesting the confession may have been obtained under hypnosis!  Details of this fascinating episode can be found here. This “those who touch get burn” tale should sound familiar to anyone who has followed the cases of Ahmet Şık, Nedim Şener, İlhan Cihaner, and Hanefi Avcı. These individuals all landed in jail after taking on the movement. What is crucial about the Kayseri case, however, is that unlike the others, where evidence is circumstantial, it directly implicates Gülenists.

Here is a second example, relayed to us by Eric Edelman, U.S. ambassador in Turkey during 2003-2005. During his service in Ankara, Edelman was approached by an individual connected to the Gülen movement, and provided with documents apparently showing preparations for a coup by the Turkish military. Edelman had his staff examine the documents. They turned out to be forgeries. This is, of course, a particularly interesting episode in light of the subsequent Sledgehammer case, as it shows the Gülen movement has a history of peddling fake coup documents.

We should also say a couple of words about the relationship between the movement and the national police. These days, Gülenist spokespeople no longer deny that they have sympathizers among top police cadres. But they say this is not surprising: police officers, like everyone else, are free to have their own beliefs and can be Gülen followers. We have no argument against this.

Still, there is plenty of evidence that Gülenist influence within the national police goes beyond the beliefs of individual officers. For example, a Wikileaks cable relates a telling story that leaves little doubt that senior police officers act to further the Gülenist agenda. U.S. consular officials were approached in 2005 by three ranking members of the Istanbul police, who asked that the officials intercede with the FBI on behalf of Fethullah Gülen.  Their request: a “clean bill of health” from the FBI for Gülen, in support of his green card application. That senior police officers thought it fit to put this request to the Americans is sufficiently enlightening about their institutional links with the movement.

A document included in Hanefi Avcı’s book (a senior police commissioner who broke with the Gülenists and produced an expose about their activities) gives us a second interesting example. This document was apparently prepared by Gülenists within the police and meant to be presented to Fethullah Gülen or someone close to him. It presents a series of complaints about the Gülenist “imam” to whom the police officers reported. It appears the imam had let caution go to the wind and was endangering the secrecy of their collective operations. The document reveals the clear hierarchical links among the Gülenists within the police force. While we have not seen the original of this document, its veracity has not been challenged. The imam in question (who was named) has disappeared, and Avcı himself was packed off to jail – on patently absurd charges – as he was preparing for a press conference in which he said there would be more revelations.

So if we accuse the Gülen movement, it is not because we are prejudiced, but because of the facts. We do not find the movement’s discourse on democracy, dialog, and human rights to be convincing for the same reason.

If you are following Turkey you have to make a choice as to how you interpret what the country has been going through. Either you refuse to acknowledge, all the evidence notwithstanding, that the country’s “special courts” are in the grips of a mafia that fabricates and plants evidence and frames innocent individuals. Or you have to ask why the visible parts of the Gülen movement spare no effort to back this mafia so unhesitatingly.

Because we are empiricists and follow the facts, we take the latter route.

Abone Ol

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6 Yorum “Why do we accuse the Gülen movement?”

  1. Vila Matahau Says:

    I am an Aussie, not Turkish dont even know who this Gulen character is… I am currently studying International Law and have picked Turkey because of it’s rich history. I have read this article a few times and researched various statement thrown out. This article is the biggest piece of bullshit i have ever read… Nothing but lies! Have you actually researched what you have written? I highly doubt it…


  2. Solmaz Türk Says:

    Bence de senin söylediklerin nothing but bullshit Aussie şakirtciğim.


  3. MustafaBerlin Says:

    Vila; the only piece of bullshit is your posting which is the common way the Gulencis try to counterattack the truth about their criminal activities. For someone who “does not know who this Gulen character is” you have defended this very thorough and well thought out research by a Professor.
    Why is it that you have to act like you don’t know Gulen or not a part of the Gulen Movement. If Gulen is truly about peace, love, dialogue and tolerance…..isn’t this something you should be proud of instead of trying to hijack the comment boards of articles that expose Gulen for the fraud he and his gang of bandits are?
    If you are “studing International Law and picked Turkey because of it’s rich history” would you care to study the fact that Turkey has fallen further down because of it’s multitude of Human Rights violations, there are more violent cases against Women and minorities than ever before. Not to mention if you are an attorney, especially a Kurdish one you will be thrown in jail.
    Yes, tell us about that rich history and the true indigneous people of Turkey that built the St. Hagia Sofia, the Topaki Palace, all the ancient ruins …do tell but remember to include the part about the Gulen Movement infiltrating: education, judicary system, police, media and now the military.

    Let’s see if you will win. I hear in America you are getting your asses handed to you and your schools are closing.


  4. Mert Says:

    “Gulen Movement”

    Amazing blog! If you google “Gulen Movement” among thousands of propaganda web sites this blog is among the first sites (second page of google).

    Maybe not this entry, but another one referring to Gulen Movement.

    If many of us provide links to this entry at other sites, this entry might be also among the top web sites list! 😉

    I bet that’s why this blog is targeted by their followers.

    It is a powerful media and number one reference point for the ongoing cases since it doesn’t propagade lies but solid facts.



  5. David Says:

    Vila Matahau, If you spent so much time reading and researching this article, maybe you could have spent a little more time writing your comment and go into some specifics about why you deem it all to be lies and bullshit.


  6. Ugur Soylu Says:

    I invite everybody to forget about; the fabricated documents, the power of the Gulen Movement and its followers, has there really been an attempt for a coup?, have these army officials been involved in these kind of actions?, Turkish Military had done it before so why not now?, etc…. Forget about all this.

    In any country, any prosecuter can bring about charges against anybody for anything. The difference is that in a country that has the real Justice with due process, presumption of innocence (innocence until proven guilty), shady evidence against the defendant works in favor of the defendant, and etc., this is what would have been happened: After the first hearing, in light of all the facts of the evidence being shady, the judge would have dismissed the case and told the prosecutor to come back with unquestionable evidence and ask for another trial.

    To me the questions below are vital:

    1. Are these trials just?
    2. Could the prosecuters have gone this far with these allegations in any other country that has real Justice or could these trials would have been dismissed as soon as it was revealed that the evidents the prosecuters brought about were shady.
    3. In no democratic country with civilized society today, nobody in law practice or interested in law practices and/or press/media would say this: “Yes there are big discrepencies within the allegations, yes there are due process problems, yes some evidences are shady, yes the defendants were not given the right to defend themselves propoerly, yes they should have not been kept in jail for all these years with this kind of long trial process without judgement, yes I feel for the defendants, yes, yes, yes, yes BUT you can’t say nothing happened”. If there are people in a country who say all these things but still trying to justify these allegations and trials, nobody could say there is LAW in that country.
    4. The last and the most important thing is that; could this have happened in any other country with a modernized society living under law that is just for everybody and anybody? And if it did would we have seen millions of people marching on the streets for due process and justice because of the shady evidence.

    The real problem is the society in Turkey. Turkish society in general believes in democracy, liberty, law, human rights, democratic rights and scuh only if it works in their favor. Most of them have no social awareness, no social reactions unless it’s against them. There is a real authoritarian regime in Turkey with few rights given to its citizens and that government still can go out and say that there is not even Democracy but Advanced Democracy in their country and they can have the support and the votes of the 50 percent of the voting population.

    The governments in Turkey has never, is not and never will want to educate its citizens in light of democracy, personal liberties, law, etc. because in that case, they would never be able to run the authoritarian regime that’s in their favor.

    So the real problem for me is that; If the citizens of a country do not realy know what democary, personal liberties, freedom of speech, freedom of religion, law, justice mean they will not care about any of these trials and keep believing – blindfolded- the goverments that they’ve voted for.


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