Uslu makes two arguments. First, he says that the “discovery” of some of the evidence in a naval base proves that it is the defendants who must have placed it there. This conclusion is comical in light of how the Turkish military has turned into a sieve in recent years as regards access and security. We have seen a veritable flood of leaked documents – some classified highly secret –and many instances of eavesdropping on conversations at the highest level of the military command. Unknown operatives have had access to even Prime Minister Erdogan’s residence, where bugs have been found. Compared to some of these feats, retrieving and manipulating a detached hard drive from a storage area in a naval base would have been child’s play.
Moreover, we know that most of the initial CDs delivered anonymously to a journalist are authentic –the three fake CDs containing the coup documents are the exception — and were stolen from the 1st Army headquarters. If such material can be secreted out of military headquarters, it is not at all surprising that fabricated material can be brought into a naval base.
Second, Uslu says that the hard drive on which the incriminating documents were found are password-protected, and that only two individuals had the password. The truth is that no passwords are required to manipulate and add data to the hard drive in question, which is a detached drive that had not been in (legitimate) use since July 2009. Anyone who has access to the hard drive could have written to it without special software or knowledge. (We know this because we tested the operation using the court-provided forensic image of the drive. The officers may have had Windows passwords, but this has nothing to do with whether someone could copy files to the hard drive, especially when we are talking about files being copied to folders outside of the Documents and Settings folder structure as in this case.)
Uslu is forced to concede that the incriminating files have been backdated. But he resuscitates the bizarre argument that this was done by the defendants so they could proclaim their innocence if they were ever caught. This is akin to accusing the victim of framing of planting the evidence against himself. Uslu does not explain why the defendants left their own names (and even ID numbers) all over the criminal documents or did not simply destroy the outdated plans. Surely there are better ways of covering your tracks, by using aliases rather than real names at the very least.
Uslu, like so many others at Taraf and Zaman, has a long record of covering up the evidence of forgery in the Sledgehammer case. He has flip-flopped several times as the anachronisms and inconsistencies have come to light. He argued at first that the CDs had been “updated” in later years. Next he claimed that the “handwriting” on the CDs belonged to an officer serving at the 1st Army headquarters in 2003. (Since the CDs were created in a single session, these two positions are mutually inconsistent. Meanwhile the “handwriting” turned out to be a forgery, produced by machine-copying letters from the officer’s notebook.) Now he is back to the updating argument, but says nothing of the alleged handwriting evidence he had made such a big deal of.
Uslu is a former police officer and he still has close contacts within the police force. We shall not speculate on the reasons behind his dogged, if clumsy efforts to authenticate blatantly forged documents. Suffice it to say that Uslu’s record of distortions is evident to anyone who has followed the case from its beginning.