Chronology of Dec 17: Day to day events turn into a tale of the slow-motion collapse of separation of powers

Dec. 17, 2013: On the morning of Dec. 17, Turkey wakes up to a bribery and corruption operation. Simultaneous operations in İstanbul and Ankara take place after an investigation that included allegations of land being opened up to illegal city zoning, bribery and money laundering.
The operations, which are carried out on the orders of the İstanbul Public Prosecutors Office, result in the arrests of 49 people, including Barış Güler, the son of Interior Minister Muammer Güler, Kaan Çağlayan, the son of Economy Ministry Zafer Çağlayan, Abdullah Oğuz, the son of Environment and City Planning Minister Erdoğan Bayraktar, businessman Ali Ağaoğlu, artist Ebru Gündeş’s husband, the Iranian Reza Zarrab, Halkbank General Director Süleyman Aslan and Fatih Municipality Mayor Mustafa Demir. In addition, the Financial Crimes Investigation Board (MASAK) sends a report to the İstanbul Police Department regarding suspicious money transfers.

In Konya on the day the operation takes place, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan speaks about the events for the first time. He says, “It would not be right for me to say something while the legal process is going on.” Erdoğan also underscores in his words that Turkey was not a banana republic. In the evening hours, Justice Minister Sadullah Ergin, who comes from Hatay to Ankara, calls for a meeting of the Supreme Board of Judges and Prosecutors (HSYK). The minister states that his reason for coming is not connected to the investigation and that he needs to work in his office for an hour.  

Dec. 18: As the result of a search on the home of Halkbank General Director Süleyman Arslan, $4.5 million stored in shoe boxes is impounded. In the meantime, seven coded safes, a money-counting machine and large amounts of cash are found in the home of Interior Minister Güler’s son.  

On this same day, the first intervention in the investigation occurrs. The first stage is that five police branch directors in charge of the operation are removed from their positions. These are: Financial Branch Director Yakup Saygılı, Smuggling Branch Director Tuğrul Turhal, Organized Crime Branch Director Nazmi Ardıç, Counterterrorism Branch Director Ömer Köse and Public Safety Branch Director Ersan Erçıktı. Later, removals of certain officials from their positions take place in other cities and on the same day a total of 33 police directors find their positions changed. The interventions, as it turns out, are not limited to the police. Two more prosecutors are put on the official case.  

Erdoğan says, “The changes made in the police force may occur in other cities.”

Republican People’s Party (CHP) leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu says, “The fact that the prosecutors and police chiefs running this operation have been taken off their jobs shows that the [Justice and Development Party] AK Party accepts all of the criminal charges against it.”

Joining prosecutors Celal Kara and Mehmet Yüzgeç — who are overseeing the corruption investigation — comes Ekrem Aydıner from the Public Servant’s Crimes Bureau and Mustafa Erol from the Private Investigation Bureau. The reason for the new appointments to the case is given as the “high number of suspects and a desire to see the investigation completed quickly.” Head prosecutor Turan Çolakkadı is in charge of assigning prosecutors’ tasks.

Speaking for the government, Bülent Arınç says: “Nothing was asked of the interior minister prior to his son being arrested. We ought to have been informed.”

Recorded telephone conversations involving Minister Güler and businessman Zarrab make their way to the Internet. In one of them, Güler promises to remove the police bothering Zarrab from their duties.

Dec. 19: It is ascertained through technical and physical means that businessman Zarrab distributed around TL 139 million to public officials over the course of his money laundering of $87 billion.

Images of Zarrab with both EU Minister Egemen Bağış and Barış Güler emerge.

İstanbul Chief of Police Hüseyin Çapkın is removed from his position.

In response to information that evidence has been tampered with, Prosecutor Zekeriya Öz arrives at police headquarters at 12 a.m.

The first response to all this from the European Union is, “The independence of this investigation needs to be ensured.”

Dec. 20: Aksaray Governor Selami Altınok, newly appointed to the İstanbul Police Department, arrives at his new job by the prime minister’s private jet. Erdoğan meets with Governor Hüseyin Avni Mutlu and new Chief of Police Altınok in the VIP salon of Sabiha Gökçen Airport.

Job replacements and new appointments continue to be made in the police department. At the National Police Department, 14 departmental heads are removed from their positions.

Prosecutors take a consensus vote on the arrests of Kaan Çağlayan, Barış Güler and Zarrab.

EU Minister Bağış elicits a tremendous negative reaction on his arrival in Parliament and is then forced to leave the General Assembly.

The deputy head of MASAK, Faruk Elieyioğlu, is removed from his position after starting an operation in the wake of a report asserting that Zarrab had been smuggling gold.

When an imam speaking at Friday prayers in Van says, “This corruption investigation is the work of the US and Israel,” the congregation leaves the mosque.

Dec. 21: Islamic scholar Fethullah Gülen: “Whomever is engaged in illegalities, may Allah bring down flames on their home; if what is being done is anathema to the basic disciplines of the Koran, to the laws of Islam, to modern law, then may Allah send those people to the bottom of the earth, let their homes be engulfed in flames, may their homes come down on their heads.”

As part of the bribery and corruption case, Barış Güler, Kaan Çağlayan, Halkbank head Aslan and Zarrab are among 24 people arrested and sent off prison. At the same time, 33 people, including the son of Fatih Mayor Mustafa Demir and the son of Environment Minister Erdoğan Bayraktar are set free.

At 12 a.m., a bypass of the justice system is carried out; despite being anathema to what is laid out in the Constitution, police and gendarme officials were now required to report to the chief administrators in charge at all incidents.  

In defense of the $4.5 million that had been discovered in shoeboxes, Aslan says: “That money was donations for Imam Hatip schools. Reza Zarrab was a philanthropic person and wanted to support charities.”

Zarrab says in his testimony, “I donate to charitable organizations.”

Meanwhile, 25 more police officers find their positions changed within the İstanbul Police Department.  

Dec. 22: Stricter regulations are placed on the media coverage of this developing story. Press members are forbidden from entering police buildings. This decision is shared by an email sent to police officials at 3.32 a.m.

Former İstanbul Police Chief Çapkın (who was removed from his position) says, “According to the law, it is normal that we would not have heard about this operation.” CHP leader Kılıçdaroğlu asked, “Was it illegal organizations that made the son of the interior minister talk about that corruption in his phone calls?”

Dec. 23: The National Intelligence Organization (MİT) director charged with leaking information about the investigation is called to give testimony, but newly appointed Police Chief Altınok does not send him to give testimony.

Gülen calls the attempts to make his words about “corruption” appear like some sort of curse a “low level attempt at slander and skewing of reality.” Gülen notes that he had first talked about how Allah punishes those who do wrong and later about how “fire would be sent down onto the homes of those involved in thievery by Allah.”

In the meantime, distribution of the Zaman, Bugün, Today’s Zaman and Orta Doğu newspapers is stopped on all Turkish Airlines (THY) planes. AK Party Ankara deputy Haluk Özdalga says: “The changes brought about in the Judicial Police Regulations are terrible.” CHP deputy Muharrem İnce says: “The prime minister knows that this situation will soon touch him, which is why he is trying to damage the evidence.”  

Dec. 24: President Abdullah Gül speaks publicly for the first time about the corruption investigation, saying: “If in fact there has been corruption, it cannot be covered up. There must be respect for the justice system in this.”

The EU reacts negatively to moves giving the impression that government tools are being used to cover up the bribery and corruption being investigated.  

A National İntelligence Organization (MİT) official is brought to the helm of the Telecommunications Directorate (TİB).  

Dec. 25: An earthquake of resignations hits the AK Party. Government ministers Güler, Çağlayan and Bayraktar all resign.

Noting that he had been sent a declaration of resignation to sign, Bayraktar said: “Everything was done with the approval of the prime minister. I do not accept the pressure on me to resign. If necessary, let the prime minister resign. I am resigning from both my position as government minister as a deputy.”  

Erdoğan says about Zarrab, “I do know whether he is involved in charity work.” A total of 10 ministers are changed in the Cabinet. The new interior minister is now Efkan Ala, while Bekir Bozdağ becomes justice minister.

In the meantime, the Ankara public prosecutor gives the green light for the start of a new corruption investigation.

New orders for arrests are sent from the İstanbul Public Prosecutors Office to the police. A new investigation is started by prosecutors into the İstanbul governor, police chief and the new financial branch director, none of whom followed orders from the prosecutors. Former Interior Minister and AK Party Ordu deputy İdris Naim Şahin said, “What has been done to the personnel at the police directorate and the justice system cannot be explained by reason, law or justice.” On this note, he resigns from his position and his party. All personnel working in the İstanbul Financial Branch and Organized Crimes Branch of the police department are removed from their positions.

Dec. 26: Prosecutor Muammer Akkaş is removed from the corruption, bribery and money laundering operation that had actually begun over year earlier. Akkaş says, “I was prevented from carrying out this investigation.”

Following a piece of writing by Balyoz (Sledgehammer) case lawyer Yalçın Akdoğan in which he said, “A plot was hatched against the military,” a decision is made to restructure the justice system.

The HSYK says, “The newly structured Justice Protection Directorate is anathema to the Constitution.”  

Dec. 27: As part of the second wave of corruption operations, the assets of seven businessmen and two companies are placed under supervision.

AK Party Ankara deputy Özdalga resigns from his position, saying: “Justice is being intervened in. The police department is being passed through a cutting machine.” He also added, “There is no crisis in the justice system, just intervention in the justice system.”  

After being arrested and later released, the owner of TAŞ Yapı, Emrullah Turanlı, says: “Ten municipalities took TL 20 million from me in illegal ways. Everything has been recorded.”

Former Culture and Tourism Minister and İzmir AK Party Deputy Ertuğrul Günay says, “Just as the party is facing such serious accusations, those who were the cause of those accusations were given support that makes it very difficult to understand.” Saying this, he then resigns from the AK Party.

The 10th Chamber of the Council of State reaches a decision to stop the functioning of the Judicial Police Regulations. AK Party İzmir deputy Erdal Kalkan resigns. Erdoğan says, “If I had the authority, I’d try the HSYK.”  

Dec. 28: Another reaction from the EU was, “It is extremely irresponsible to blame those carrying out an investigation into corruption, rather than trying to actually illuminate the corruption itself.”

Five branch directors working in the Ankara provincial Directorate of Education and said to be close to the Gülen movement are removed from their positions.

Security cameras detect someone entering the buildings of the İstanbul Police Financial Branch and interfering with computers there. Following the statement from lawyer Akdoğan that “A plot was hatched against the military,” the soldiers  in prison apply to be retried. Usame Kutup, who is allegedly linked to al-Qaeda, says of a mysterious car accident that took place on Feb. 15, 2013, “We were in the same vehicle as El Kadi and Tayyip Erdoğan’s bodyguard, İbrahim Yıldız.”  

Dec. 29: AK Party deputy Mustafa Elitaş says a legal change could occur that will help suspects in the Ergenekon and Balyoz cases.

Referring to the prosecutor in charge of the corruption investigation, Erdoğan asks: “What sort of prosecutor is this? I have some business with you. Wait a minute now, I have some business with you. The HSYK has begun using its authorities in a different way. When we achieve the power to change the Constitution, we will shift the authority it has.”  

Dec. 30: The Journalists and Writers Foundation (GYV) responded to accusations about a parallel state in Turkey: “The allegations about a parallel state are unacceptable. If there is evidence, the government needs to show it.”

The Iranian Justice Ministry announces the arrest of Babak Zanjani, a businessman reputed to be the partner of Zarrab.  

Dec. 31: There is another resignation from the AK Party, as Burdur deputy Hasan Hami Yıldırım says he is leaving the party in reaction to what he calls insults to both Gülen and the Gülen movement as well as attempts to cover up evidence in the corruption investigation.

An arbitrary decision is made to stop the functioning of a mine belonging to the owner of the Bugün daily, Akın İpek.

Accused of being a secret supporter of certain figures within the corruption investigation, Prosecutor Öz says: “I am no one’s man. I am a state official who tries to work honestly for his salary. I do not make concessions for anyone where the law is concerned.”

Jan. 1: Head of the parliamentary Constitution Commission Burhan Kuzu makes a confession regarding a secret file on 2,000 people, including academics, business figures, journalists, prosecutors and police officers. A report containing information on these people is presented to the prime minister.

Allegations surface that trucks containing ammunition and weapons have been discovered heading for Syria via Hatay, and the ammunition and weapons were impounded.

Jan. 2: The military’s General Staff headquarters brings charges to the Ankara Republic Prosecutor’s offices in regards to the alleged “plot foisted against the military.”

The Lig TV channel puts an end to commentary from Hakan Şükür. Şükür notes that he was expecting such a decision in the wake of his resignation from the AK Party, and that he had been targeted for strong criticism throughout his life as a result of his personal beliefs.

Justice Minister Bekir Bozdağ appoints his brother, Ünal Bozdağ, as a high-level consultant at the Justice Ministry. The police who stopped trucks passing through Hatay and into Syria are removed from their positions.

Jan. 3: Turkish Parliament Speaker Cemil Çiçek says: “The 138th article of the Constitution [dealing with the independence of courts] has died in this country.” The ban on press members in police stations is suspended by a court decision to stop this implementation.

— Iran state television: Turkey has been supporting militants in Syria since the uprising there first began in 2011.

In a meeting with journalists, the prime minister asserts that a letter of peace and compromise had been sent to him from certain people.

Jan. 4: The prosecutor in charge of overseeing the investigation into the trucks in Hatay headed for Syria, Özcan Şişman, is removed from his job.

Prime Minister Erdoğan says in regards to al-Qaeda member Yasin El Qadi, “Yasin El Qadi is someone who loves Turkey, who is religious, who wanted to make investments, and who is a Saudi businessman.”

Prime Minister Erdoğan states, “It was a mistake for the director of the Halk Bank to have all that money in his home.”

The Foundation of Journalists and Writers says in fact there was no letter written by Fethullah Gülen to the prime minister, and that instead such a letter had gone to another high-ranked government official. The foundation also highlighted that the letter contained no element of bargaining for peace with Erdoğan.

Jan. 5: Fehmi Koru says: “I delivered that letter. I was very surprised to hear the prime minister use the word ‘bargaining.’ That letter was in fact sent straight to the president.”

The prime minister declines to take the newspapers Habertürk, Radikal, Hürriyet, Zaman, Milliyet, Vatan, Bugün, Taraf, Posta, Sözcü and Cumhuriyet on his official trip alongside him.

It also emerges that MİT had informed the prime minister some eight months previously about the relationship between Zarrab and the government ministers.

Jan. 6: The AK Party agrees with the CHP and the BDP that MPs cannot be tried on crimes including “terror and coup” without permission from Parliament.

The number of people whose positions have been changed in the Police Directorate surpasses 1,000, with the latest job removals involving 45 police officers in charge of technical pursuit units and telephone recording. All of the police officers working in the Ankara Police KOM unit are removed from duty. According to the latest data, the number of police removed from their immediate positions on this date in Ankara is around 600.

Jan. 7: Operations in five regions near İzmir take place in connection with allegations that the Turkish State Railways (TCDD) Ports Management Directorate was involved in illegal manipulation of bidding tenders and bribery. The operation, which occurred on orders from the İzmir Republic Prosecutors’ offices, involved department heads, management directors, deputy assistants, chamber heads and businessmen, ending with a total of 25 arrests. Among those arrested is government minister Binali Yıldırım’s brother-in-law.

The deputy police director and two branch directors of the police involved in the operation on the Ports Management Directorate are removed from their duties. Following this, many top-ranked directors working in the Treasury are removed from their positions.

The AK Party presents the Parliament speaker with a law proposal that would alter the structure of the HSYK, putting more legal authority directly in the hands of the Justice Ministry.

Jan. 8: Head prosecutor Zekeriya Öz says: “In two high court letters sent by Prime Minister Erdoğan, it was specified that if I did not immediately stop the investigation, I would be in trouble. I said that the worst thing that could happen to me would be death.”

Constitutional professor Ergun Özbudun asserts that the proposed changes to the HSYK could certainly return from the Constitutional Court.

According to the new Torba (omnibus) Law, dormitories and pensions used by the Gülen movement are to be turned over to the Treasury. This was denied the next day.

In regards to the issue of the suspects in the Ergenekon and Balyoz cases being re-tried, Deputy Prime Minister Hüseyin Çelik states, “The prime minister gave orders to the Justice Ministry to work on the matter of re-trials.”

AK Party deputy Ali Aşlık says, “Prosecutor Öz is preparing his own end, much like prosecutor Murat.” It should be noted that prosecutor Murat Gök was found dead in his home.

Jan. 9: It is alleged that prosecutor Zekeriya Öz stayed in a luxury hotel between Oct. 16 and 22, 2013, in Dubai. At the same time, though, it becomes clear that Öz’s return ticket from Dubai had been for Oct. 21, which would make these allegations impossible.

Prosecutor Öz’s bodyguards are removed.

A new bill proposing more stringent censorship of the Internet is drafted. According to this bill, the Telecommunications Directorate (TİB) is to be the only institution with authority on Internet matters. According to the new bill, Internet pages can be shut down within four hours if deemed necessary.

Jan. 10: HSYK head Ahmet Hamisici notes with regards to the HSYK law, “They are doing this in full awareness that it is anathema to the Constitution.”

On this date, 609 police officers, including 80 ranked officers and one guard, are removed from their duties in the Ankara Police Directorate.

An announcement from the HSYK in regards to the new bill on changes to the structure of the HSYK states, “This bill is anathema to the Constitution.”

Turkish Parliament Speaker Cemil Çiçek, in response to allegations that Prosecutor Öz had received threats from Ombudsman Ömeroğlu, starts up an investigation into this.

An operation into the actions of 35 people involved in bribery is started at the Mersin Customs Smuggling and Intelligence Directorate.

The prime minister is quoted as saying in regards to the Ergenekon operation: “There are many people in prison who have done nothing wrong.”

Members of the AK Party Youth Wing take tours of student homes, asking, “Are these connected to the Gülen movement?”

Jan. 11: Interior Minister Efkan Ala’s brother, Atıf Ala, is brought to the helm of the National Education Ministry’s Inspection Bureau. Prime Minister Erdoğan’s advisor, Hamdi Kılıç, says: “Some of the reflexes that we have seen developed to protect our traditions of state are quite frightening. … Just a quick reminder for me.”

Jan. 12: Bank Asya becomes the target of defamation campaigns. Some public institutions pull their funds from Bank Asya.

Bilal Erdoğan, called in to testify, does not offer testimony. He instead joins his father in an official car.

Jan. 13: A warning from the European Parliament: “If the interventions in the justice system continue, the EU accession process may come to an end.”

Bekir Bozdağ says: “A series of statements about Bilal Erdoğan are being made. But no one knows what’s actually in the file. I say that people need to remember the principle of innocence.”

Jan. 14: The prime minister compares members of the Gülen movement to “assassins.” The police carry out a raid on the the Humanitarian Aid Foundation (IHH) bureau in connection with an al-Qaeda operation.

The prime minister says: “A prosecutor leaves Adana and heads for Hatay trying to prevent MIT’s humanitarian assistance.”

The director in charge of the morning operation is later removed from his duties. Around the same time, the director of the Kilis Anti-Terror Bureau, Devlet Çıngır, is removed from his post.

The al-Qaeda operation that began in the morning ends with Serdar Bayraktutan being removed from his post at the Van Anti-Terror Bureau in the afternoon.

Jan. 15: The Foundation for Journalists and Writers states that it is unacceptable to compare members of the Gülen movement to assassins. Illegally made recordings of phone conversations involving Gülen wind up on the Internet.

In one night at the Police General Directorate, 500 people including three general directors are reassigned.

The AK Party’s Beşir Atalay states: “Öcalan is the leader of the Kurds. MİT is in talks with Öcalan and BDP members, and they are meeting at Kandil.”

Bekir Bozdağ oversees council members of the HSKY in their meeting, with some changes made to the distribution of members’ places.

The prime minister issues orders to ambassadors: “The real face of this organization [Gülen movement] must be explained overseas.”

AK Party deputy Fevai Arslan says: “Erdoğan is a leader who has gathered all the qualifications of Allah in one man. Which is why they want to block his path.”

Jan. 16: A reaction from Turkey’s ambassadors to the prime minister’s orders about propaganda: “There cannot be discrimination like this among citizens.”

AK Party İstanbul deputy Muhammet Çetin is sent to the party’s discipline board with a request for expulsion based on his joke about shoeboxes.

In the HSYK, Bekir Bozdağ reshuffles the first chamber, which then relocates 20 Istanbul prosecutors to different places. The HSYK then removes 19 prosecutors and 1 judge from a variety of cases they had been following and overseeing, including Ergenekon, Balyoz, and the corruption investigation. In Istanbul, the third wave of the operation has begun, though the police do not follow prosecutor orders, and arrests are ignored. The arrest orders are issued for 45 people, including the son of the prime minister, Bilal Erdoğan, but they were not called in for testimony.

Jan. 17: Under orders from the Prime Minister, the MIT clarifies its primary target in 2014 as being the struggle against Parallel State Organizations (PDY).

MIT also issues orders to all personnel to follow closely the actions of all religious organizations and structures. The first priority is again underscored as being the Parallel State Organizations.

The İstanbul 2nd Criminal Court puts a ban on all news, interviews, criticism and publication of file contents that include the name of Bilal Erdogan.

In the meantime, the Savings Deposit Insurance Fund (TMSF) impounds all the possessions of Mustafa Sarıgül.

All the department heads at the Telecommunications Bureau are removed from their offices.

Jan. 18: A caveat is added to the AK Party’s report on proposed changes to the structure of the HSYK.

MHP deputies assert that giving authorities to the Justice Ministry — not even seen during coup periods — is anathema to the Constitution.

Kılıçtaroğlu states: “The prime minister wanted a 20 acre plot of land from Ağaoğlu in return for zoning permission.”

Jan. 19: It is announced that three trucks were stopped by gendarmes in the Adana Ceyhan area after warnings came in that they were carrying smuggled arms. In referencing the Adana prosecutors who had ordered this, Hüseyin Çelik says: “This is a truck that belongs to MIT. The contents are of no concern to anyone.”

Hüseyin Çelik says: “The prime minister’s son started a foundation to help education and orphans. What part of this could be considered bad?”

Jan. 20: A warning is issued by Ertuğrul Günay, who had recently resigned from the AK Party, to his former party counterparts: “Do not harm the public conscience. You will also need the law one day.”

President Gül says: “Let the HSYK law come out, and you’ll see what I do.”

The AK Party Adana and Kahraman Maraş city leadership resigns en masse.

Prime Minister Erdoğan says, “The rise in foreign currencies against the Turkish lira cannot be connected to Dec. 17.”

Twenty-two businessmen start legal action against the prime minister for the comparison of members of the Gülen movement with “assassins.”

Jan. 21: The EU warns Prime Minister Erdoğan, in Brussels on an official visit, about the importance of supremacy of justice and the separation of powers.

It is learned on this date that some 800 reporters working across Turkey for the TRT network have been removed from their jobs.

The HSYK changes the positions of 97 judges and prosecutors.

Jan. 22: In Brussels, Prime Minister Erdoğan is unable to persuade the EU that the job removals and changes in connection with the corruption investigation have been legitimate.

Teams from the Istanbul Smuggling and Customs Protection department carry out a raid at the Halkalı customs. Thirty people are arrested.

In Ankara and İstanbul, 570 police officials are removed from their postings.

Jan. 23: The Turkish Industrialists and Businessmen’s Association (TÜSİAD) President Muharrem Yılmaz says, “Foreign capital does not enter countries in which companies are pressured through fines.”

Due to pressure from the West and domestic circles, the HSYK talks are shelved for the time being.

Following the removal of 117 prosecutors from their positions in connection with the bribery and corruption investigation, a statement is made by Bilal Erdoğan’s lawyer: “My client is prepared to testify.”

The increase in the dollar on the foreign currency markets does not cease. One dollar is now worth TL 2 and 30 kuruş.

The AK Party finds a new formula for the re-trial of suspects in the Ergenekon and Balyoz cases. Among the 20-person delegation to be re-tried is Abdurrahman Yalçınkaya, who once started a legal case to see the AK Party closed down.

Jan. 24: Justice Minister Bekir Bozdağ is summoned to be questioned in Parliament in response to allegations that he pressured the justice system to shut down the proceedings of the corruption investigation in Izmir.

Prime Minister Erdoğan’s response to TÜSİAD’s comments on foreign capital entering Turkey: “TÜSİAD has committed treason. …They will get their answer.”

Allegations are made that the financier behind Iranian Mansour Arbabsiar, who was caught preparing an attack on the US Embassy in Saudi Arabia, was in fact Reza Zarrab.

Jan. 25: Prime Minister Erdoğan targeted Fethullah Gülen with sharp criticism at a meeting in the Ministry of Religious Affairs, calling him “empty-hearted” and a “fake.”

The job removals and re-postings that took place in the wake of Dec. 17 easily rival those seen around the time of the Feb. 28 process. From Dec. 17, a total of 5,400 officers have been removed in the Police Directorate, while in the justice system, some 117 have been removed from their postings. Job removals have also happened at TRT, the Treasury and the Ministry of Education.

Feb. 10: The ban on trips outside of Turkey, and the orders to sign in at the closest police station, are lifted for 23 suspects in the TOKI part of the Dec. 17 corruption investigation. Included among these 23 suspects are the son of Minister of the Environment and City Planning Erdoğan Bayraktar, Abdullah Oğuz Bayraktar, and businessman Ali Ağaoğlu. (Zaman Newspaper)

Though Today’s Zamanis Mahir Zeynalov was first said to have been deported due to his lack of a press card, later, a text from the Interior Minister explains that “he was deported due to tweets he made criticizing the prime minister.” Reporter Zeynalov did wind up getting a press card made for him, though shortly afterwards, it was disclosed that the Press Publications General Directorate would not include him.

The Cengiz-Limak-Kolin group, whose name was included in the second corruption investigation, picked up the bidding tender for the third airport for $47 billion. The Istanbul 4th Administrative Court orders the construction to be shelved on the basis of the ÇED (Environmental Affect Report).

Prime Minister Erdoğan speaks at the opening of the İstanbul Metro’s Mecidiyeköy-Mahmutbey Metro line. He says: “I ask you to pay attention to who is really saying what during this whole Dec. 17 process. The group TÜSİAD is also involved in this business. Just look at TÜSİAD. They need to mind their own business, go produce something. Just as a bakkal is supervised in terms of the taxes it is paying, you will also be checked like this.” (Hürriyet daily)

It emerges on this date that illegal villas were being built on SIT (protected) land in İzmir Urla, and that this land belong to the Finance Ministry. It also emerges that Prime Minister Erdoğan had been involved in efforts to downgrade the land from fırst degree to thırd degree SIT land, with sound tapes provided on this front over a Twitter account called “Haramzadeler.” (Zaman daily)

Mehmet Cengiz, the owner of Cengiz İnşaat, which coordinated the $630 million fund that came about from the sales of the Sabah newspaper and ATV television, received in the past decade some 88.6 billion liras worth of business from the state. This amount actually reaches TL 100 billion when one includes the business obtained through Built-Manage-Turn Over models. (Taraf daily)

Feb. 11: The 1st chamber of the HSYK reshuffles 166 judges and prosecutors. This HSYK chamber also demoted prosecutor Zekeriya Öz, while appointing a lower level prosecutor to Bolu. While Öz had been in the role of head prosecutor for Istanbul, he was appointed as head prosecutor for the Istanbul district of Bakırköy as of last month. After a one month period passed, Öz was then appointed as a lower level prosecutor to Bolu. In the notice about his change in positions, the reason provided was “Job requirements.” (Zaman daily)

In the İstanbul Police Department, 10 branch directors are removed from their positions. Some of those whose jobs change include Ömür Ceylan, Foreigner’s Branch Director Erkan Aydoğan, Passport Branch Director Cengiz Urgancı, Tourism Branch Director Ufuk Balcı, Sports Safety Branch Director Murat Özgün, Photo Film Branch Director İbrahim Kocaoğlu and Bakırköy City Police Chief Hilmi Korhan Zilcioğlu. Ömür Ceylan is put to work in the Foreigner’s Branch, while Bakırköy Police Chief Hilmi Korhan Zilcioğlu is brought over to the Tourism Branch. To head the Bakırköy City Police Directorate, Murat Çetiner is brought in from the Anti-Terror branch. (Zaman daily)

Mehmet Cengiz testifies to prosecutors in the Caglayan Justice Palace in regards to the second wave of the corruption investigation on Dec. 25 and to corruption and bribery charges. Cengiz left the Caglayan Justice Palace after around an hour of testimony. (Haber Türk)

In the Antalya Police Directorate, some 80 commissars, chiefs and police officers have had their postings changed. (Haberler.com)

Prime Minister Erdoğan, speaking in a parliamentary group meeting, noted that the conditions deputies terms might be changed. Erdoğan comments in reference to the new bill proposing changes to Internet censorship and regulations that “it took five days to stop voice tapes being broadcast over the Internet from being broadcast. There was no one who hadn’t heard these things. The new Internet law aims to stop this.” (Radikal daily)

CHP leader Kemal Kılıçtaroğlu speaks in a Parliament group meeting about a conversation between former Interior Minister Muammer Güler and his son, Barış Güler. Kılıçtaroğlu sets up a screen in the hall, and had his party members listen to the voice recording. In the recording, Muammer Gülerin asked his son just how much money he has, and then provides this warning to his son for what to tell police: “Now as far as I can understand, they are talking about a bribery relationship between you and Rıza Zarrab. You are going to tell them that you have a consulting business. That it is unofficial. My indebted cousin is working with them.” After listening to the voice recordings, Kılıçtaroğlu said: “A raid takes place, he calls his father. The father already knows everything. I am calling out to citizens who have voted for the AK Party here… These are recordings made on court orders. These are not illegal. No one is trying to carry out a coup on anyone else. If any coup has happened, it has been against your pockets dear citizens, against your pockets.” (T24)

Feb. 12: Talking about these voice recordings, Prime Minister Erdoğan asserts that this was all the business of the parallel state, noting: ”We are talking about a structure that has tried for 40 years now to infiltrate the state. They see every path as legitimate in their attempts to reach their goals.” Erdoğan uses the term “leader of an organization” in reference to Gülen. (Hürrüyet daily)

On orders from the Interior Minister, Izmir City Police Director Sami Uslu is removed from his posting. Though he had been at his job for only 34 days, Uslu is replaced by Police Deputy General Director Celal Uzunkaya. Uslu is re-assigned to the head of the Passport Branch Directorate. Uzunkaya, his replacement, had been involved in the past in various investigations in both Bursa and Balıkesir. (İHA)

Prime Minister Erdoğan and Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy hold a joint press conference at the Prime Minister’s Office. A journalist from the Zaman newspaper asks Erdoğan whether he will respond to a wide range of allegations, including money used to buy Sabah and ATV, the building of illegal villas on state land, and interventions in news programs. He responds by saying: “First of all, set aside the expressions about ‘allegations’ being made. Because your bosses are behind all of these allegations actually. In fact, beneath and behind these allegations are ties to the outside world. You only act according to the orders you receive from these outside points.

“As for the situation in Urla, it has nothing to do with me. This newspaper needs to prove these allegations first. You are talking about a place that was built up some 35 years ago. Why are you directing these questions at me, and not the person being tried.”

In response to the journalist’s question about calling from Morocco, he says: “Yes I called. I only wanted to make a reminder. The people who I reminded were simply put into order following the insults they had made to us….”

In response to the question about the money pool used to purchase Sabah and ATV, Erdoğan says: “First of all, you talk about a pool, and I am really curious too, what are you talking about? What pool? The company we are talking about here is not a regular company. He sells his shares to his uncle. Is this a pool? You do not even have the resolution to tell your bosses this. And even if you did, you would get no results. Mashallah they really make great compliments in their dreams. They say to increase by two the number of Tweets being sent out. And since you clearly received a fatwa on this, you too continue increasing your tweets.” (CNNTürk)

Journalist İsmail Küçükkaya explains on a Fox TV “Çalar Saat” program how he spoke with businessman about assistance to the monetary pool created for a purchase of a media group. Küçükkaya notes that he had spoken with Nihat Ozdemir after the statements from Prime Minister Erdoğan, and that he had asked questions about the Sabah-ATV sales. Özdemir said, “Did you give money to the pool?” The response was “Yes, I did. But as a loan.” (Hürriyet daily)

Businessman Mustafa Latif Topbaş, whose name was part of the second wave of corruption investigations on Dec. 25, makes a public statement about the voice recordings in relation to the illegal villa construction on land in Urla and Çatalca. Topbaş says, “Even if there is a bit of truth in the contents, the way in which these recordings were presented is hurtful and opens the way towards a different and untruthful perception of the way things happened.” (Zaman daily)

Feb 14: Six more suspects, including former Halkbank General Manager Süleyman Aslan, all of whom were detained after the breaking of a graft probe on Dec. 17, 2013, on charges of receiving bribes, money laundering and planning to circumvent international sanctions on Iran, were released. 

Source: Today’s Zaman

 
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About yavuzbaydar

Yavuz Baydar has been an award-winning Turkish journalist, whose professional activity spans nearly four decades. In December 2013, Baydar co-founded the independent media platform, P24, Punto24, to monitor the media sector of Turkey, as well as organizing surveys, and training workshops. Baydar wrote opinion columns, in Turkish, liberal daily Ozgur Dusunce and news site Haberdar, and in English, daily Today's Zaman, on domestic and foreign policy issues related to Turkey, and media matters, until all had to cease publications due to growing political oppression. Currently, he writes regular chronicles for Die Süddeutsche Zeitung, and opinion columns for the Arab Weekly, as well as analysis for Index on Censorship. Baydar blogs with the Huffington Post, sharing his his analysis and views on Turkish politics, the Middle East, Balkans, Europe, U.S-Turkish relations, human rights, free speech, press freedom, history, etc. His opinion articles appeared at the New York Times, the Guardian, El Pais, Svenska Dagbladet, and Al Jazeera English online. Turkey’s first news ombudsman, beginning at Milliyet daily in 1999, Baydar worked in the same role as reader representative until 2014. His work included reader complaints with content, and commentary on media ethics. Working in a tough professional climate had its costs: he was twice forced to leave his job, after his self-critical columns on journalistic flaws and fabricated news stories. Baydar worked as producer and news presenter in Swedish Radio &TV Corp. (SR) Stockholm, Sweden between 1979-1991; as correspondent for Scandinavia and Baltics for Turkish daily Cumhuriyet between 1980-1992, and the BBC World Service, in early 1990's. Returning to Turkey in 1994, he worked as reporter and ediytor for various outlets in print, as well as hosting debate porogrammes in public and private TV channels. Baydar studied informatics, cybernetics and, later, had his journalism ediucatiob in the University of Stockholm. Baydar served as president of the U.S. based International Organizaton of News Ombudsmen (ONO) in 2003. He was a Knight-Wallace Fellow at University of Michigan in 2004. Baydar was given the Special Award of the European Press Prize (EPP), for 'excellence in journalism', along with the Guardian and Der Spiegel in 2014. He won the Umbria Journalism Award in March 2014 and Caravella/Mare Nostrum Prize in 2015; both in Italy. Baydar completed an extensive research on self-censorship, corruption in media, and growing threats over journalism in Turkey as a Shorenstein Fellow at the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard.
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