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Defamation of Gulen as a Smoke Screen

Abdullah Ademoglu, April 5, 2010

The Story Behind the Media Smear Campaign Against Gulen During the 1990s

 

The Gülen movement has been recognized in and outside of Turkey as an apolitical, philanthropic and altruistic civil society movement focused on education, intercultural harmony and peaceful cooperation of civilizations. Nevertheless, the movement has been subjected to harsh criticism, primarily by Ultra-nationalists and radical Marxist-Laicists in Turkey. An extreme example of incitement took place during the summer of 1999, when allegations were made that Gülen had been secretly attempting to overthrow the secular Turkish government by means of civil servants embedded in various governmental offices. That the same accusations have been made against other public figures numerous times in the history of the Republic is noteworthy.  As in the past, some of the Turkish media played a key role in initiating and fostering this defamation campaign. The broadcasting of doctored video clips and distorted montages of Gülen’s speeches, ie. speech excerpts lacking any context, on some private television channels constituted a media inquisition of Gülen, as well as  a warning to individuals who sympathized with his social project ideas.  At the same time, much more important news items were downplayed, namely the ratification of new legislation for regulation of the banking sector and a subsequent banking crisis that eventually cost the state treasury the equivalent of nearly 100 billion dollars. The peculiar coincidence of the media campaign against Gülen and the ratification of new banking laws by the national assembly was noticed by Turkish intellectuals as well as by Mr. Bülent Ecevit, then the prime minister of Turkey. Ecevit voiced his opinion that the media campaign was intended to divert public attention from the introduction of important legislation concerning banking regulation and national security council. Unfortunately, later revelations and developments have confirmed the prime minister’s view.

 

After giving an overview of the support for and opposition to the Gülen movement, this chapter will describe the context of the media inquisition against Gülen, which began in June, 1999, the nature of the allegations and the concurrent developments. In addition to providing portraits of the major players in the campaign, their backgrounds, political inclinations and connections, it will present various theories about the factors motivating them to perpetrate such a campaign.   The chapter will conclude with an analysis.

Support for the Gülen Movement

The friends and supporters of the Gülen movement include a long list of intellectuals, political leaders, academicians, and active and retired government officers from all segments of the Turkish political spectrum.

 

Among others, the late president Özal was a strong supporter of the educational activities of the movement. After working in various government positions and at the World Bank, Özal was elected prime minister of Turkey, serving the country between 1984 and 1989. He was elected president in 1989 and served in this capacity until his death in 1993. Özal first met with Gülen in the late 1960’s, when the former was an official in the government’s office of central planning (DPT). In later years, he closely followed the educational activities of the Gülen movement and offered support in various forms. Most notably, he visited schools in the Balkans and in Central Asia, procuring them both more positive media coverage and more national authorization. During his last trip abroad, between April 3rd and April 15th, 1993, Özal visited schools in Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan. Journalist Hulusi Turgut reports that during this trip, Özal personally assured the leaders of these countries of the positive roles these schools could play in developing the relationships between their respective countries and of the contributions the schools could make to Central Asian youth. Turgut reports that Özal gave his personal assurance to the president of Ozbekistan, saying, “I am a guarantor for these schools” (Turgut 1997).

 

The former president Demirel (center right) also supported the educational activities of the GM through school visits and letters of official recognition. Additionally, Demirel participated in the intercultural and inter-ideological dialog activities organized by the Journalists and Writers Foundation, of which Gülen is the honorary chair.

 

A quote from Sali Berisha, the president of Albania illustrates the positive remarks made by heads of governments in all the countries where the educational activities of the Gülen movement are present (Turgut, 1997):

 

“I wish great success to the first Turkish school in Albania in educating the future geniuses of Albania and in preserving and developing the close relationships among our countries.”

 

Former prime minister Bülent Ecevit is an example of a supporter of the Gülen movement from the “left” side of Turkish political spectrum. On various occasions, Ecevit expressed his support for both the educational activities of the movement as well as the person of Gülen:

 

“I examined the activities of these educational entrepreneurs and educators abroad, and I was pleased with what I saw. First of all, regardless of the host country, the educators were providing modern education. They were offering Turkish language classes to their students. And they were offering education in English, which is a prerequisite for scientific development today. Together with the local language, these schools were providing education in three languages. This is a great humanitarian service.” (Ates et al. 2005:30)

 

Current prime minister Erdoğan (center right) has participated in events organized by the movement, made public statements supporting the movement’s activities, and provided letters of reference. Current president Abdullah Gul praised educational and economic assistance activities of the movement participants on a number of occasions. Other members of the current administration include Minister of State Kursat Tuzmen and Bulent Arinc, Minister of State and former speaker of the Turkish Parliament among others.

 

Other political leaders and intellectuals who have supported the educational activities of the Gülen movement include Mesut Yılmaz, a one-time prime minister and center-right party leader; the former prime minister Hikmet Çetin (center leftist); Recai Kutan, leader of a religious right party; Mehmet Saglam, former Secretary of Education and later Director of the Council on Higher Education, Aydın Bolak, former chairman of the Turkish Education Foundation (Ergun, 1999:374); late Uzeyir Garih, Jef Kamhi, and Ishak Alaton, Jewish citizens and entrepreneurs of Turkey.

 

Clearly, the trends in the news and the variety of commentaries on the Gülen movement have usually reflected the political inclinations of the media owners, as well as the general political climate. A number of newspaper columnists and intellectuals have expressed support for various activities of the movement, especially for their dialog/tolerance and educational activities. These include Taha Akyol (Milliyet daily, former director of CNN Turkey), Gulay Gokturk (Bugun daily), Ali Bayramoglu (Yeni Safak daily), Fehmi Koru (Yeni Safak daily), Nuh Gonultas (Bugun daily), Atif Bir (Bugun daily),  Mustafa Akyol (Taraf daily), Hadi Uluengin (Hurriyet daily), Hakan Aygun (Bugun daily), Namik Kemal Zeybek (Radikal daily, former Turkish Secretary of Culture), Toktamis Ates (Bugun), Mehmet Gundem (Yeni Safak), Cengiz Candar (Radikal daily), Prof. Dr. Mehmet Altan (Professor of Political Science, Istanbul University and columnist for Star daily), Prof. Dr. Sahin Alpay (Professor of Political Science, Bahcesehir University), and Prof. Dr, Kemal Karpat (Professor of History, University of Wisconsin, Madison) among others.

 

The foregoing brief discussion is intended to give an idea about the diversity and level of support for the activities of Gulen Movement participants. A more detailed discussion is beyond the scope of this study. The interested reader is referred to the publications of the Foundation of Writers and Journalists.

Ideological Opposition to the Gülen Movement

Staunch opposition to the Gülen Movement comes from two radical ends of the Turkish political spectrum: the militant laicist[1], anti-religious Marxists/Maoists/Atheists (ie. the far left) and the militant, anti-religious ultra-nationalists (ie. the far right). These groups’ opposition tactics can be distinguished from more valid critiques of the movement in that their inconsistent allegations and accusations are not supported by evidence and have been refuted by legal verdicts.

 

It is possible to find both positive and negative reports on the Gülen movement in most newspapers and TV channels. However, the Marxist-Maoist Aydınlık (The Enlightenment) magazine and the militant laicist Cumhuriyet (Republic) newspaper, famous for their antagonistic view of the Islamic faith, pose an exception to this rule.

 

Led by Doğu Perincek and known for its Marxist-Maoist slant, Aydınlık has been a flagship publication of Turkish radical leftist revolutionaries since 1921. Perincek is also the leader of the Workers Party (IP) which has never received more than .01 percent of the popular vote in general elections. Perincek also visited PKK leader Ocalan’s terrorist camps in Syria and conducted interviews with him two times.

 

Both Aydınlık and Cumhuriyet have consistently opposed the Gülen movement for three decades.  This stance has also affected their internal politics.  For example, a respected Socialist-Kemalist thinker, chairmain of the Ataturkist Thought Foundation and Cumhuriyet columnist, Prof. Toktamis Ates, participated in some dialog and tolerance activities led by Gülen. He was later forced out of his chairmanship position due to his embrace of Gülen’s message of tolerance.

 

One outspoken opponent of the Gülen Movement was Ali Kırca, a TV host and anchor during the media campaign against Gülen.  Kırca, a former military officer with Marxist/revolutionary leanings, had been dismissed from the military for alleged involvement in a robbery for the benefit of a Marxist revolutionary organization[2].

In addition to the numerous slander campaigns waged by the ideological groups and publications mentioned above, a major media smear campaign took place in the aftermath of the so-called February 28, 1997 post-modern coup d’état. Especially two mainstream media organizations played leading roles in this campaign, the Sabah group and the Star media group. The owners of each of these media groups, Sabah media group and Star media group, were later charged with fraud, embezzlement and other illegal financial conduct involving their companies and foreign partners[3]. The complacency of these media owners with the powerful generals of the February 28 post-modern coup in order to protect their financial interests and cover up their misconduct were revealed through public confessions as in the case of Dinc Bilgin, the owner of Sabah media group or during the state prosecutors’ investigation of the alleged Ergenekon armed terrorist network.

 

 

Concurrent Developments Prior to and During the Defamation Campaign

As previously stated, the media inquisition against Gülen coincided with significant political and economic developments in the country. It is particularly important to acknowledge the general atmosphere of the so-called “February 28th Post-modern Coup” and the public desire of some high ranking generals to continue pressure on the political parties[4]. There were also allegations that some generals in the military wanted to break traditional promotion conventions to secure higher ranks. The second, more immediate development was an unauthorized wiretapping scandal (the so-called “tele-ear” scandal) that involved some officers from the Ankara Police Department. A third development, one that captured the attention of the world media, was the capture, imprisonment and trial of the separatist terrorist leader, Abdullah Öcalan. The fourth and most significant development was the ratification of new banking laws and the establishment of BDDK, the Governmental Committee for Banking Regulation and Oversight, the equivalent of the U.S. OCC, due to pressure from the International Monetary Fund on the government to clamp down on corruption and the looting of the private banks.  The ways in which these four developments formed the backdrop for controversial incitement against the Gülen movement will be discussed in the following sections.

 

The Atmosphere of the “February 28th Post-modern Coup”

Although the Turkish experience of democracy dates back to the 1850s, it has not been free of problems. Military coups of one form or another have played key roles in shaping Turkish politics for the past two centuries. The Republic of Turkey has suffered three military coups and one so-called “post-modern” coup during its relatively short existence of 83 years.

 

On May 27th, 1960, a truck full of soldiers barged into the Ankara Radio House and announced a “revolution” that would “put the country back on track” after ten years of Democratic Party rule. The coup resulted in political power changing hands, ie.  in the dissolution of the parliament, the banning of the Democratic Party (DP), and last but not least, the arrest and subsequent hanging of Adnan Menderes, the vastly popular prime minister of two terms. Although Menderes had never been seen performing Islamic prayers, he was charged with attempting to take the country backwards into a theocratic regime. His “major crime” was, in fact, allowing the call to prayer to be recited again in Arabic, after years of being recited in Turkish.

 

The coup of March 12, 1971, was put into effect via a letter given to the ruling party by the Chief of Staff of the military. Again, military trucks came to the Radio and TV Broadcasting Stations of the TRT, or Turkish Radio Television, the state media monopoly of the time. Although this coup was not as ruthless as the coup of 1960, the ruling party was still forced to resign, political power changed hands, and a regime of military oversight over politics was observed. Both coups resulted in abrupt changes in the political power structure, military enforcement of political bans, and hangings.

 

During the decade of 70s Turkish youth were enveloped in ideological and political anarchy that often took the form of street fights, gun battles and bombings. Thousands of Turkish youth were killed in these battles. The coup on September 12, 1980, was advertised as the military’s response to the “failure of the government to stop the ideological and sectarian anarchy which had claimed the lives of thousands of Turkish youth.”  Again, the parliament was dismissed, political parties were banned, and the political landscape changed overnight. The anarchy on the streets stopped overnight. It is telling that the military leaders did not answer prime minister Demirel’s question of why the army did not use the means in their disposal to stop the anarchy without resorting to a military coup.

 

The coup of the February 28, 1997, was termed a “post-modern coup” owing to the fact that except for a brief showing of tanks in a suburb of Ankara, soldiers and guns were not used to achieve the objectives of the architects of the intervention. Although the military played the central role, some self-proclaimed civil organizations as well as the media were involved in the psychological warfare leading to the intervention and in its aftermath. The leading players of the February 28th coup openly expressed their desire for its effects to last “for a thousand years[5].”

 

Indeed, the powerful group of generals behind the February 28th “post-modern” coup openly supported continued pressure on the political parties of the day. Although these generals agreed that it was necessary to rid the government of the religious right party, RP, they disagreed on the means to do so. The hard-liner group desired a more direct oust by the military and swift enforcement of the policies set forth  by the generals. The group following the Chief of Staff preferred a more gradual process. The hard-liners succeeded in implementing their plan for a short period following the passage of a stern resolution at the meeting of the National Security Council on February 28, 1997. In the long term, however, members of the hard-liner group were retired and the military influence subsided. An investigation into corruption allegations made against the leader of the hard-liner group and subsequent revelations of his abuse of his position played a key role in their eventual retirement. In 2002 Gen. Hilmi Ozkok took helm as the Chief of Military Staff and served until 2006. Ozkok has sometimes been criticized by hardliners as being “too democratic” for his support of the civilian control over the military. A popular magazine (NOKTA) later revealed that three military coup attempts planned by his subordinates were thwarted by Ozkok during his term.

 

During the days leading up to and following the February 28th declaration an extremely negative media smear campaign was orchestrated against both the ruling party’s coalition partner, RP, as well as against all faith-based communities in Turkey. Every other day some figure with a Muslim identity was displayed as having repugnant attributes, having carried out despicable actions, or as being involved in a shady scandal of some sort. Some of the key figures active in the 1999 media campaign against Gülen were also in producers of slanderous news during this time. The goal of the campaign was to steer public opinion in favor of a military intervention and maintain support for it afterwards. The involvement of at least two media organizations in this campaign played a major role in building suspicion about Gulen in the minds of ordinary citizens.

 

Illegal Wiretapping and Blackmailing (“Tele-ear”) Scandal

Another important and highly relevant event that preceded the media campaign against Gülen was the revelation of illegal wiretapping initiated by some members of the Ankara Police Department. According to a government investigation, the director of the Ankara Police Department, Cevdet Saral, along with a group if his subordinates organized the unauthorized wiretapping of the homes and offices a number of celebrities, government officials and bureaucrats. According to newspapers reports of the investigation, the wiretapping targeted even the prime minister (Baris 1999:26). When the wiretapping was exposed, the director and his team of subordinates were dismissed from their positions by the Ministry of Interior. According to newspaper reports, director Saral commented that “this is only the first round” (Baris 1999:53). Later developments made it clear that Saral and his team suspected the whistleblowers to be police officers sympathetic to Gulen and wowed to take revenge.

 

The Capture of Abdullah Öcalan, a.k.a. APO

Around the same time, the separatist-terrorist leader Abdullah Öcalan, who was wanted for the murder of 30,000 civilians during the 1980s, was captured in Kenya and returned to Turkey. Öcalan had led the terrorist organization PKK with a Marxist-Leninist ideology. But since most of the Kurds in Turkey were Sunni Muslims, his ideology had failed to appeal to the Kurdish population and he had changed his rhetoric. It was expected that the trial of Öcalan would result in a death penalty. The media inquisition campaign against Gulen diverted attention from this trial in addition to other important developments in the country as will be discussed below.

 

Banking Regulation Laws

Finally, as mentioned, Turkey experienced multiple banking crises in the 1980s and early 1990s. During the few years preceding the media smear campaign against Gülen, bank owners who were also media moguls were suspected of widespread fraud, looting and embezzlement of bank assets. The International Monetary Fund began to put pressure on the newly formed coalition government to clamp down on private banks whose financial practices were irresponsible even by liberal Turkish standards. In the same week that the media inquisition against Gülen began, an important piece of legislation, Bank Act No. 4389, was discussed and ratified by the Turkish Grand National Assembly (TBMM 1999).  This legislation dictated the formation of BDDK, the Governmental Committee for Banking Regulation and Oversight, the equivalent of OCC in the U.S. This newly passed law was a signal that the coalition government, backed by the International Monetary Fund, would scrutinize the risky and suspicious behavior of private financial institutions. The media inquisition of Gülen diverted public attention from the ongoing corruption and served as a smokescreen while the wrongdoers pursued every means to salvage their sunken assets and avoid investigation into their corrupt practices. In particular, these media owner business industrialists enlisted the support of retired generals by offering them lucrative positions on corporate boards. One columnist, after giving a list of no fewer than 20 generals who served on corporate boards upon retirement, asks why some of these generals were never asked any questions while the owners of the respective corporations received hundreds of millions of dollars in fines and jail sentences due to fraud, embezzlement and corruption charges.[6]

The Media inquisition Against Gülen

The first sign of the impending media inquisition of Gülen appeared in the Marxist-Leninist-Maoist magazine “Aydınlık” (Enlightenment). The magazine discussed a report prepared by the Ankara Police Department that found Gülen and his sympathizers to be involved in a secret organization aimed at taking over the government and turning the country into a theocracy. The magazine conveniently overlooked the fact that this report had been the subject of an investigation and been deemed fallacious by two Turkish courts. As a consequence, the magazine had to publish a court-ordered refutation on March 16, 1999.

 

The defamation campaign started in full on June 10,1999, with Star newspaper’s[7] publication of the very same report, that had allegedly been prepared by the Ankara Police Department upon a request by the National Security Council. Ten days later the National Security Council denied any association with the report and stated that the report had neither been prepared, requested or discussed by the council (Baris 1999:285). The Star report referred heavily to a book by Faik Bulut entitled Who is This Fethullah Gülen? The report contained slurs against the Messenger of Islam and the Qur’an, revealing the fact that Bulut’s opposition was not only to Gulen but also against the religion of Islam in general. Bulut, who had been involved in the Marxist-Leninist student movements of the 1960s and 70s, and who had been tried and sentenced for involvement in ideological terrorist activities, paints a heavily biased and often erroneous portrait of Gülen in this book. The potential motivations of the Uzan family, the publisher of Star daily will be dealt with below.

 

The second phase of the campaign started with the airing of video clips in which Gülen was speaking to government workers, during a talk show on ATV, a private TV channel owned by the Bilgin family.  Ali Kırca, the host of the show had five guests all of whom were known for their anti-Gulen biases: Gülseven Yaşer, the chair of the Contemporary Education Foundation, author Necip Hablemitoglu, Turkan Saylan, chair of the Organization for the Support of Contemporary Life, Hasmet Atahan, a former Marxist-Leninist,  and Kemal Yavuz, a retired general.   Kırca aired the video clips without explaining the occasion, audience or the context of Gülen’s address, and interspersed the clips with commentary of his own to increase the dramatic effect on viewers.

 

Kırca, who obviously intended to incite the nation against Gulen, succeeded.  The following excerpts from one of the first news reports after Kırca’s program (Özgür Politika 1999), summarizes the snowballing effect of the defamation campaign and it includes the then Prime Minister’s reaction to it:

 

Following revelations about a report that was allegedly prepared by the Ankara Police department, segments from a video cassette were aired on public media channels that referred to Gülen sympathizers who are “embedded as civic servants in various government offices,” and [the broadcast] had the effect of a bombshell in political circles.

 

Known for his staunch defense of Fethullah Gülen, prime minister Bülent Ecevit claimed that the cassette was aired in order to turn public attention from important developments. Some political commentators, on the other hand, attributed the surfacing of the cassette to political arm-wrestling among factions in the government.

 

After a video cassette revealing sympathizers of Gülen embedded in government was aired in the public media, a busy day was experienced in political circles.

 

Prime Minister Bülent Ecevit answered the questions of reporters yesterday.

 

Ecevit said: “I do not wish to delve into this issue. There are important developments currently underway. In the agenda of Turkey there are issues such as the constitutional changes regarding national security courts and banking laws. I can not accept shifting the nation’s focus from these to other issues.

 

Adding that he does not find speaking before hearing the response of the accused, [Ecevit] nevertheless added, “Our citizens can rest assured that no one can divert our secular republic from the path drawn by Ataturk. No one has ever done and no one ever will.”

 

 

A government official who asked to remain anonymous questioned why the the cassette surfaced at this particular time, despite the fact that its contents have been known for a while. Referring to the firing of security officials upon the unlicensed phone-tapping scandal (the Tele-ear scandal), the official attributed the choice of this particular time to the inter-factional wars within the government. The same official emphasized that the incident would take on a much broader scope within the coming days.

 

Indeed, the government official cited anonymously in this news report was correct.  The snowball effect proved such that the chief prosecutor for Ankara’s national security court, Nuh Mete Yüksel, started an immediate investigation into the matter.

 

It was later proven that these video clips, which formed one of the bases of the defamation campaign, were cut from multiple cassettes and pasted together without any context and that montages were done to create the impression that Gülen was organizing a secret group of government workers to later take over the government. The montaged clips, indeed, completely distorted the speaker’s true intention, which was simply to make recommendations to devout government workers who had been under scrutiny for political reasons six years earlier, in 1993.  If one takes into account the partisan policies of the ministers of interior, one can understand why these devout government personnel were afraid of losing their jobs, and why they sought a moderate Muslim leader’s (Gülen’s) advice on how to act and respond to the situation.

 

Namely, during the Istanbul City Congress of the leftist party CHP (Republic and Nation’s Party) on August 22, 1995, Mehmet Mogultay, the CHP Minister of Interior declared that he and his predecessor from the same party had collectively employed 3,000 judges who belonged to their party during their terms. Mogultay also said the following:

 

“I have fired 5,000 personnel from my department during my term. Should I have given these positions to the rival MDP or RP instead of my party? During the term of my predecessor, Seyfi Oktay, 2,000 judges were appointed. During my term 1,000 judges were appointed. A total of 3,000 judges were appointed.”

government

“For 10 years, 20 years, 30 years, we have been away from the government. No, indeed the wisest thing to do is to employ people from your party during your governance. These employees will grow [in power] over time and will ease your way. I have fired 5,000 workers from the government. Since the 1970s we had not been able to get any government positions. Now, during a 2.5 year term, 2,000 judges were appointed by my predecessor, Şeyfi Oktay. These are democratic personnel who will bear fruit later. If this is a crime, I will do I again[8]. I will never leave my post.”

 

Such public statements make it clear that governmental personnel who did not support CHP or other leftist parties in the 1990s, indeed, suffered some discrimination and ran the risk of losing their jobs.  As devout Turkish Muslims usually stand – or are perceived as standing – on the right side of the political spectrum, the group of Turks who sought Gülen’s advice on how to act and respond to partisan policies did so as an act of self-defense.  However, during the airing of the tapes, these details were left out and Gülen was shown as organizing a secret force to take over the government.

 

Before long, the Contemporary Education Foundation (Çağdaş Eğitim Vakfı) headed by Gülseven Yaşer joined the media inquisition against Gülen with a book entitled “Hocanın Okulları” (Khodja's Schools). This book was brought in as evidence in the criminal case against Gülen at the Ankara State Court of Security. Gülen’s attorneys later sued the persons listed as the authors of the book and the chairwoman Gülseven Yaşer for damages resulting from false allegations and accusations in the book. On March 24, 2001, the court found the authors and the publisher guilty of defamation and ordered them to pay a total of 1,5 billion Turkish liras (approximately 1 million dollars) to Gülen.

Gülen’s Response

Gülen responded to the report  and video tape broadcasts about him with an articles published in Aksiyon magazine (June 16, 1999) and Zaman newspaper and two TV interviews with Show TV anchorman Reha Muhtar (June 22, 1999). In these articles and interviews, Gülen systematically denied all allegations that he was aiming to take over the government, and furthermore, suggested that his comments were taken out of context and doctored in order to create a completely different impression on the viewers. The following transcript of his interview with Reha Muhtar (Muhtar 1999)……….:

 

Host: According to claims in the media based on some video cassettes, you are planning to take over the state and to this end you have been organizing covert operations within the government’s institutions? Is that correct?

Gülen: It is impossible for me to accept these claims made against me based on a cut-and-paste version of video tapes taken of some of my speeches. Let me clarify a few points.  First of all, such claims have been made before, and all of them were dismissed either during the investigation or by the court. Second, while the media in question is so diligently unearthing such devastating evidence against me, what have the state’s intelligence agencies been doing? Third, all business operations and entities claimed to be connected with me are legitimate business organizations and foundations operating within the laws of Turkish Republic. Even if one had the intention of taking over the government, one can only be prosecuted for one’s actions, not for one’s thoughts. This is an important rule of law.

Fourth, as far as I can remember, the cassette in question is the collection of answers given to some questions asked by the members of a group with deference to my opinions. Some of the questions broadcast in the program had to do with the favoritism shown to special interest groups and gangs in the filling of many bureaucratic positions within the Justice Department. This sort of favoritism had been confessed to and defended at the party congress by the Minister of Justice of that time. I simply offered some advice to those who feared losing their jobs or had lost their jobs or were somehow hurt by such action. I said that in such fights for ideology such things would happen and that the victims should not be overly disturbed by such events. I also advised those who who had suffered professional damages due to the biases of  mafia, gangs or ideological groups not to retaliate against these groups or provoke them, under the influence of religious and nationalistic feelings.

 

Of course, these statements were presented in the montage – which was made from a number of sources collected from a number of archives over the years - in such a manner as to depict me as a fanatic planning to take over the state, and as a means of later prosecuting me in a kangaroo court. But, was the same sort of treatment applied to those who misused their official power to man many justice department positions, to which they themselves admitted?  If not, the reason for the timing of this video-clip broadcast was not to publicize the alleged activity, but rather, related to some other ill intent. In fact, some members of the media have admitted this. Rumors are flying that some one has “pushed the button.” Who are those “button-pushers”? Why did they do it? On whose behalf did they push the "button?” Or, are they themselves - whoever they are - gathering power to take over the state?  Are they trying, with a new “irtica”[9] campaign, which has always been a national soft spot,, to reach their own goal?

 

Here, I would like to emphasize an important point. In general, in Turkey attacks on Islam under the pretense of “irtica” (subversion) and religious fundamentalism, tend to lead almost every Muslim to outrage and extreme approaches. In order to prevent such provocation of anger as exemplified by the Justice Minister in question Mehmet Mogultay (CHP) in some talks and speeches, the truth may need to be presented from varying perspectives.

Throughout  history, the truth has always been uncovered. The truth behind this despicable attack shall also come out; the innocent and the guilty will come to light.

I would like to touch upon one more important point here:  We do not judge a book by its cover alone. In the same way, an individual should be judged in light of all the information available on him, not by just one or two of his words. One should consider the time and purpose and circumstances under which statements are made. To date, I have a number of published books and recorded sermons and speeches available to anyone. I should be judged on the content of all these data. In many speeches, I have emphasized that a true believer does not - and should not - desire worldly gain or a high position when serving his nation, and that one can have no higher reward than winning the pleasure of God and the rank attained in the service of faith and the Qur’an.

It would be no exaggeration if I claim to have repeated this idea hundreds of times. The believer should enter hearts and should make people love God;  in the name of spiritual life and love, he or she should strengthen the faith of everyone he can and give hope to humanity. To serve some parties’ self-interests, however, I am being executed without a trial. The heavily doctored video twists the truth 180 degrees and gives it exactly the opposite meaning of what was actually said. For example, on one TV channel I was quoted as having said, "Whenever I have entertained thoughts of  our bureaucracy being in the Interior and Justice Departments in this service of faith and the Qur’an, I receive a (divine) slap in the face."  What was meant here is that for a believer, any thought or wish to be a man of faith and love is the basic principle, and nothing

g else. That is, expectations or rank or power have no place in the service of faith and the Qur'an, and that they should never be entertained.[ In the video,] these warnings I gave were twisted, just like those [statements] I had made before.

All this shows that the purpose of the other side is quite different: in order to reach their goals, the end justifies any means.

In any case, the matter has been brought to the courts. I will respect any decision the court renders.

Another interesting part of the interview occurred when the host referred to the allegation by a former military general that Gülen was Kurdish. This allegation is telling, in the sense that it reveals a mentality that constructs a certain notion of ethnicity without which a person is not seen as eligible to play a pivotal role in Turkish society.

Host: Retired General Kemal Yavuz suggested that you come from a Kurdish background.

Gülen: Look at this irony. While some accuse me of being an extreme Turkish nationalist, another makes mention of my 'Kurdish heritage'. Does fate allow us any choice of family, color, race, or physique?  Would [my statements] have been a crime had I come from a Kurdish background? I am shocked that someone should even bring up this question. But, just to respond to this outrageous allegation, I come from true blue Turkish blood. Many generations back there was a Kurt (=Wolf) Ismail Pasha among my forefathers. Over the years, many people have falsely read this name as Kürt (=Kurd), on purpose I suspect. Then they conclude that I have Kurdish blood.

 

Another question’s answer highlighted the nature of the doctoring tactics:

Host: There is an allegation that when you spoke about the leftist/socialist parties, DSP, CHP and SHP, you said “they are damned to hellfire.”  Is this true?

I have never cursed in my life. When faced with the most difficult situations, I’ve [always] prayed to God, saying “O Lord, I am weak. I put my trust in you.” And I used this expression in the face of those who were openly pursuing anti-nation and anti-faith agendas. To point to DSP, CHP and SHP as “enemies of faith” reveals total ignorance of faith.  To associate religious faith with political parties is a disrespect to faith and a disrespect to the rights of political parties. However, I did not say those words that are attributed to me. On the contrary, I said that some people make such claims and that nobody has a right to say any such thing. What was done was that my preceding and succeeding phrases were cut and only the middle portion was broadcast.

 

Comments of Leaders during the Media Inquisition

Prime Minister Bülent Ecevit was just one of several leaders who suggested that the media’s inquisition of Gülen could be a smoke screen tactic (Özgür Politika 1999). Deputy prime minister Yilmaz also commented that if some within the state are publicizing such reports with precise timing, this would amount to the state crafting enemies, which could never be acceptable (Baris, 1999: 189, 202). President Demirel, as well, commented that, “These are serious allegations and should be investigated. But, rest assured that we will not allow anybody to undermine our laws.” (Baris, 199:133). Recai Kutan, the leader of a religious right party, commented, “The goal of this campaign is not Gülen, but all of the faithful citizens of the country. Why would a person who wants to take over the government lead the way for the opening of 300 schools abroad? Would it not be a lot easier to open those schools within the country?” (Baris, 1999:201). Liberal feminist columnist Gülay Göktürk made the most surprising comment about the incident. Göktürk suggested that the issue was not about an individual taking over the government, but rather, about the refusal of an oligarchic elite, who had seized the government early on, to yield to democratic powers (Baris, 1999:247).

The Lawsuit Against Gülen and its Resolution

State prosecutor Nuh Mete Yüksel, who was famous for his radical actions and his indictment of the current prime minister Tayyıp Erdoğan based a poem the latter had read at a party rally, filed for the arrest of Gülen on August 3, 2000, at the Ankara State Court of Security. On August 7, the court rejected Yüksel’s demand for the arrest of Gülen, who was in the United States at that time due to health problems. On August 31, 2000 Yüksel filed a formal lawsuit against Gülen, with the charge  that Gülen and his sympathizers had organized a gang to change the secular government into a theocratic state[10]. Citing the 7th article of the Law Against Terrorist Activities, Yüksel demanded that Gülen  be imprisoned for 5 to 10 years.  The trial began on October 16, 2000. After years of bickering and delays, the case against Gülen was finally dismissed by the state security court on May 5, 2006; and Gülen was cleared of any wrong doing. The appeal by the prosecutors was rejected by the 9th Chamber of the Supreme Court of Appeals who woted unanimously to clear Gülen of all accusations against him in July 2008.

Developments Following the Campaign

Important developments following the media inquisition of Gülen revealed some of the relationships among the leading figures of the campaign, as well as their motivations for action against Gülen. These developments included a banking crisis and the subsequent delinquency of several private banks, revelations of a secretly videotaped adulterous relationship of the state prosecutor with an employee of the interior ministry, and the declarations of a former media owner about pressure from the military to publicize fabricated news.

 

The Banking Crisis and Looted Banks

The first important development was a banking crisis that left the treasury burdened by the loss of the equivalent of tens of billions of dollars embezzled by bank owners and their partners. As a result of investigations, several private banks were transferred to the control of the Governmental Committee for Banking Regulation and Oversight (BDDK).  The BDDK had to close most of these banks and pay their deposits and debts. Coincidentally, the media owners whose media outlets had participated in the media inquisition were charged with corruption, embezzlement and looting; and some were indicted and imprisoned. Writing for Le Monde Diplomatique , Nur Dolay comments on the corrupted power of the media moguls as follows (Dolay, 1997):

 

The other papers, funded by the big banks, had already merged into powerful media blocs, each with multiple publications and their own television network, sporting a wide range of journalists with disparate views - from a tame left to a civilized right - all in the name of pluralism.

 

But, everyone knew the lines not to be crossed in this "supermarket" democracy, out of proper respect for their backers. Ample government funding, in different forms, or loans at extremely favorable rates (to be repaid only in the case of "mistakes") had been invested in juicy deals which had nothing to do with journalism. The power of these press empires and their collusion with the politicians were such that people talked of the Sabah group’s participation in one of the numerous government coalitions formed by Mrs. Çiller - as if a newspaper could be a political partner of elected politicians... Meanwhile, Milliyet

and Hurriyet, two other big groups, had merged under the name of Doğan Media to compete more effectively with their rival, Sabah.

 

Three media organizations, the Star group, owned by Uzan family, the Sabah group owned by the Bilgin family and the Doğan group, owned by Doğan family, each had financial interests that were investigated. The Uzan family was also indicted and found guilty of defrauding the U.S. corporation Motorola corporation the Finnish corporation Nokia billions of dollars (Swibel 2002).

 

According to Canadian researchers Soral, Iscan and Hebb, the financial institutions at fault some of which were owned by the corrupt media owners used five bankruptcy-for-profit strategies (Soral, 2004): artificially increasing capital, loaning through foreign banks, back-to-back loans, not collecting interest on loans to companies owned by the holding or by relatives of the owners, and finally, abuse of temporary accounts.

 

An example of such bankruptcy-for-profit cases, Esbank alone had losses of nearly $500 million. According to the BDDK, the Turkish Government’s Committee for Banking Regulation and Oversight, the Uzan family, which owns the Star media conglomerate, embezzled $6 billion from Imar Bankası, which belonged to the Uzan family. All the banks that were involved in back-to-back loans with Esbank were ultimately transferred to BDDK.  As a result of investigation, two reasons why the government had allowed these financial institutions to continue their irresponsible behavior emerged. These were (a) the borrowing needs of the government, and (b) the political support received from the media organizations owned by the bank owners. According to the authors Soral et al., the BDDK inserted a total of over 41 billion dollars into the economy, paid by taxes, in order to compensate for the losses of these banks. These losses are assumed to have been transferred to the off-shore bank accounts or foreign investments of their owners.

 

Confessions of a Former Media Owner

Dinç Bilgin, the owner of Sabah newspaper, which participated in the media inquisition of against Gülen later gave an interview to journalist and former representative Ilıcak. In this interview Bilgin talked about the influence of some generals on the media. In this part of the interview, host Ilıcak asks Bilgin about the ANDIC incident in which two columnists from Bilgin’s newspaper, Sabah, were alleged to have received monetary benefit from terrorist chief Abdullah Öcalan, known as Apo, in exchange for favorable opinions in their columns. The translated transcript of this part of the interview is as follows (Ilıcak, 2006):

 

Ilıcak: The country was enveloped by the February 28 atmosphere and we witnessed the ANDIC event[11]. Şemdin Sakık[12] was captured and his testimony was taken. Things he did not say and later denied were put into his testimony and journalists Cengiz Candar, M. Ali Birand and Altan brothers were shown as collaborating with the terrorist chief Öcalan in exchange for monetary benefit. These allegations were published by both Hurriyet newspaper[13] and Sabah[14]. Where did this information originate?

 

Bilgin: This is what is called psychological warfare. Unregulated warfare. It was seen as necessary by some offices of the government and it was put into practice. It is clear that we[15] did not act properly in that matter. I was out of country at that time, and I had Zafer[16] with me. I was informed of the ANDIC story. We were called back in a hurry. I was told that some sources had relayed this information to us.

 

Ilıcak: But this information was sent to you so that you would publish it. It was published on the same day in both Hurriyet and Sabah newspapers.

 

Bilgin: This psychological warfare is not some simple gossip. It was evident that it was planned carefully and that experts had discussed the strategy. This was the work of experts trained abroad. My concern was to protect my newspaper Sabah from negative public opinion. It would be a disaster for two columnists of Sabah to be perceived as having a financial relationship with the terrorist chief Apo. Of course, I did not believe it. I knew that the only thing Mehmet Ali (Birand) would value would be newsworthy information. And he would do anything to get insider information that would make the news. Because he is a professional journalist. Cengiz (Candar) was an individual I liked personally and our families socialized together. I knew that he would not do anything like that for money either. But, my first concern was to protect Sabah from the source that had authored the ANDIC press release[17]. My second concern was to protect my newspaper from negative public opinion. The allegation that Sabah’s columnists were receiving money from Apo[18] was disastrous news. Immediately, the Hurriyet newspaper was contacted. Zafer Mutlu asked Hurriyet to skip this release and not publish it. But his request was refused. We learned that they would publish it.

 

Ilıcak: It appears that they also received an order from a high ranking office.

 

Bilgin: Remember the forces in action during that period. We were in the early phases of the February 28th period. All we could do was to cut the information down a bit, delay, and gain some time. That was the only decision we could make there. But did I do the right thing? When I look back retrospectively, I now realize that I did not do the right thing.

 

Ilıcak: Sabah was a strong newspaper. How did this happen? You claim to be civil and democratic; and you grew alongside the Özal wave. What could they have done to you if you had followed your conscience?

 

Bilgin: Sabah had started to become a different newspaper. Other concerns were becoming more important. This was one of our great mistakes that I am ashamed of.

 

Ilıcak: Did the big newspapers have connections with the military leaders of  February 28th?

 

Bilgin: Of course, they did. At that time, the newspapers’ Ankara bureaus were influenced first. These bureaus tried in turn to influence the headquarters[19]. Such a process started. We, the media owners, were also against the RefahYol coalition[20],  and that was a factor,too. But, even today when the newspapers receive something from the office of the Chief of Staff of the Military, their tone changes. For instance, when Ali Kırca[21] receives such a release, his voice deepens and a statement in big fonts appears in the background.

 

Bilgin’s assertions about the dictated news from generals were corroborated by his editor in chief, Ergun Babahan, and columnist Can Atakli (Egin 2006, Babahan, 2006). Bilgin further claimed that some bank owners or corporate board members were never prosecuted because they helped secure seats on those corporate boards for ex-military generals (Barlas, 2006).

 

Economist Onis of Koç University corroborates Bilgin’s assertions about the relationship between the media, businesses and the military-government complex.  This relationship also affected the attitude of the most influential business organization of Turkey, TUSIAD which represents the 350 most powerful Turkish corporations (Onis, 2001):

 

A serious problem facing Turkish business in recent years has been the overt attempt by large holding companies to acquire media companies for the explicit purpose of supporting other business ventures, diffusing false information about competitors and putting pressure on political actors to their bidding. This is not exactly the type of behavior that an organization interested in greater transparency ought to endorse.

 

Revelations about Prosecutor Yüksel’s Illicit Relationship and Possibility of Blackmail

A year after filing suit based on video tape “evidence” against Gülen, prosecutor Yüksel himself became the subject of a video tape scandal.  Namely, a secretly taped sexual encounter of Yüksel with a subordinate was made public. Yüksel initially denied the authenticity of the tape. The Investigation Board of the Department of Justice started an inquiry into the tape and had the tape analyzed by experts. The board reached the conclusion that the tape was authentic and dismissed the prosecutor from duty. A more curious dimension of this scandal was the fact that the tape was discovered during an investigation of the Contemporary Education Foundation headed by Gülseven Yaşer, who had been a witness and accuser of Gülen. Hundreds of other tapes of a similar blackmailing nature were found as well. This raised suspicions that Yaşer and her organization might have pressured Yüksel to file suit against Gülen.

 

According to the Hurriyet daily, at the time Yüksel was removed from office, he was preparing a case against the current prime minister of Turkey, Tayyıp Erdoğan on the grounds that the latter was organizing a secret group pitted against the secular Turkish state (Hurriyet 2002). The state prosecutors’ investigation into the alleged Ergenekon clandestine armed terrorist network which started in June 2007 discovered many pieces of evidence that indicated that Yuksel was not the only victim of the blackmail tactic employed by the Ergenekon network by the used of videotapes of extramarital affairs[22].

Resolution of the Lawsuit Against Gülen

The lawsuit against Gülen, initially filed by the state prosecutor Nuh Mete Yüksel, was dismissed; and Gülen was cleared of any wrong doing on May 5, 2006. The appeal of the prosecutors were rejected by the 9th Supreme Court of Appeals in July 2008 concluding the case permanently.

Discussion

A number of theories regarding the media inquisition of Gülen have emerged in the Turkish media. As mentioned, the media campaign against Gülen started with a report allegedly prepared by some members of the Ankara Police Department. The chief of this department and his team was found responsible for an illegal wiretapping scandal and use of taped conversations for blackmailing shortly before the slander campaign. Consequently, allegations have been made that the chief gave the falsified report on Gülen to media organizations in order to divert public attention from his own wrongdoings.

 

As was also mentioned previously, the terrorist leader Abdullah Öcalan, who was held responsible for the deaths of thousands of innocent Turkish and Kurdish citizens, was captured immediately before the media campaign against Gülen and was put to trial. He was expected to be sentenced to death. In light of these facts, some have speculated that Öcalan’s ideological sympathizers, such as Doğu Perincek[23], Ali Kırca[24], Hasmet Atahan[25], and Faik Bulut[26], who are former or current Marxist-Leninist-Maoists, wanted him to be spared the death sentence and tried to divert public attention from his trial[27]. Evidence for this theory is the public knowledge that the uniting factor among these media members, Cumhuriyet newspaper, some military officers and Öcalan is their Marxist-Leninist orientation.

However, the strongest argument regarding the motivations and the process of the media campaign against Gülen suggests a that it was a smoke screen for the looting of private banks by media owners who had close ties to hard-line military generals. According to this theory, the campaign was orchestrated by hard-line generals who were not happy with the proposals for national reconciliation, tolerance and embracement offered by a religious figure. These generals intended to create an environment of paranoia so that certain military officers could gain more influence on politics. Some of these generals also used questionable means to rise in rank and used the campaign as a justification for their own ambitions.

Supporters of this argument note that important banking legislation was at the national assembly on the very day the first video tape excerpt of Gülen was aired. Backed by the International Monetary Fund, this legislation dictated the formation of a government agency for banking regulation and oversight. According to them, some bank owners, who were also media owners, foresaw the coming of a government takeover of their banks. They then colluded with the hard-line generals, and increased the speed of looting during the second half of 1999, and benefitted from the expected bankruptcies while the public attention was focused on the Gülen case. The fact that the media moguls had close relationship with the military has been corroborated by multiple independent sources. These corporations formed contracts with the military, and hence, nurtured financial relationships with the military. They also employed former generals and had close working relationships with some of the military leadership. Because of the general atmosphere of the February 28 “post-modern” coup, they were also under pressure to pursue defamation campaigns against certain figures on those generals’ black list. They had already successfully forced the Erbakan-Çiller coalition to step down. The hard-line generals pressured the media to go after Gülen so that they could exercise greater influence on politics. Dolay comments on the media-government-military relationships at that time as follows (Dolay, 1997):

 

Turkey’s press has merged into powerful media conglomerates backed by public and private funding. These empires have used their increasing monopoly to sideline independent voices. They have also engaged in political machinations, covering up ex-Prime Minister Tansu Çillers’s unsavory dealings and conspiring to bring about the Refah Party’s fall.

 

Employing ex-generals for protection against prosecution, securing contracts in exchange for the broadcast of fabricated news, and remaining silent when necessary, were among the practices resulting from the close relationship of media-business owners and the military. Onis also comments on the illegitimate practices of the media-business conglomerates, their relationship with the military and the impact of this relationship on the pursuit of democratization and openness in Turkish society (Onis, 2001):

 

In retrospect, the ambivalent stance of TÜSIAD with respect to democratization may be

explained by the fact that the dependence of big business on the state has not been totally eliminated. Many TÜSIAD members continue to benefit from clientele-like ties, state patronage and protection. A number of TÜSIAD members also have close links with the military, which is an important economic actor in the Turkish context. Although their rhetoric suggests that they are interested in a more rational or better-governed state as well as greater privatization, TÜSIAD members have often  appealed to various state institutions to defend their particular interests. It would be interesting, for example, to raise the question of how many TÜSIAD members have actually benefited from the socialization of their losses by the state in the context of recent bank failures. In short, contradictory behavior may be discerned in TÜSIAD's approach to the issue of establishing an accountable, state-based, even application of laws and equal access to accurate information.

 

Conclusion

In final analysis, it can be concluded that the media inquisition of Gulen served multiple purposes: First, it diverted attention from the illegal wire-tapping scandal and the responsible security officials, who, curiously, were the source of one of the “intelligence” reports prepared about Gülen. Second, Marxist–oriented media pundits found an opportunity to attack one of the most respected religious figures while diverting attention from the trial of Marxist terrorist leader Öcalan. But most importantly, the media campaign diverted public attention from ongoing bank looting and the related legislation. Furthermore, it deterred the government from pursuing the looters more decisively. Owners of the media organizations had close relationship with a hard liner group in the military which was pursuing a policy against any public role for religious leaders. Media owners colluded with the perpetrators since they wanted public attention diverted from the looting in their financial organizations. It was no coincidence that some of the entrepreneurs and their partners who were later charged with criminal conduct for their parts during the period were also the owners of the dailies and TV stations that played key roles in the media inquisition against Mr. Gülen. In the end, the formal case brought against Gülen was dismissed and a former media owner as well as many columnists revealed how and why they fabricated news during that time. The media campaign against Gülen was based on video tape excerpts without context and used for ulterior motives. It is possible to turn the most innocent statements into harsh indictments by omitting the context, which is exactly what took place during the media inquisition of Gülen. It cannot be stated for certain whether one or more of the theories regarding the true motives of the perpetrators are true. However, the incident gives us a much better understanding of the potential conjunctural factors that can play a role in the formation of public perception of social movements.

References

Barış, Ferhat. 1999. Maskeli Balon, Istanbul: Timaş Yayınları.

Ateş, Toktamış; Karakaş, Eser, Ortaylı, Ilber. 2005. Barış Kopruleri, Istanbul: Ufuk Kitap.

Babahan, Ergun. 2006. “ANDIÇ ve Medya”, Sabah, May 11, 2006.

Barlas, Mehmet. 2006. “Denize Duşen Neye Sarılmalıdır?” (What Should a Person Who Falls into the Sea Seek Help From?) Column in Sabah, May 6, 2006.

Dolay, Nur. 1997. “No Delight for Turkey: Press Machinations,” LeMonde Diplomatique, July 1997.

Engin, Oray. 2006. Akşam, “How were Birand and Candar fired?”, February 20, 2006.

Ergun, Abdullah. 1999. “Medya Aynasinda Fethullah Gülen”, Istanbul: Merkur Yayınları.

Hurriyet. 2002.  News excerpt, “Gündem” section, Hurriyet, October 22, 2002.

Ilıcak, Nazlı. 2006. Excerpt from the TV Interview “Sözün Özü”, Kanal 7 TV, May 2, 2006.

Leicht, Justus. 2003. “Turkey: Reform limits some military powers,” World Socialist Web Site, August, 19 2003. Available online at http://www.wsws.org/.

Muhtar, Reha. 1999. Transcript of the interview with Fethullah Gülen that was aired on Show TV on June 22, 1999. Available online at http://en.fGülen.com/content/view/973/14/.

Öpçin, Tuncay. 2004. “Şubat Uzar Bin Yıl Olur”, Istanbul: Selis Kitaplar.

Önis, Ziya, Turem, Umut. 2001. “Entrepreneurs, Democracy and Citizenship in Turkey,” RSCAS Working Papers, European University Institute, EUI RSC 2001/48 available online at http://hdl.handle.net/1814/1757.

Özgür Politika. 1999. Özgür Politika (Free Politics) Web Site, Dated June 20, 1999 available online at http://www.özgürpolitika.org/1999/06/20/ophaball.html.

Soral, H. Bartu.  İşçan, Talan B., Hebb, Gregory. 2006. “Fraud, banking crises, and regulatory environment: evidence from micro-level transactions data,” European Journal of Law and Economics, April 2006, Vol. 21, No: 2: 179 – 197.

Swibel, Matthew. 2002. “Dial ‘D’ for Dummies: How a Turkish family business partnered with Motorola and Nokia – and left the telecoms holding a $2.7 billion bag”, Forbes.com, March 18, 2002, available online at http://www.forbes.com/forbes/2002/0318/086.html.

Turgut, Hulusi. 1997. Sabah, January 27, 1997.

TBMM. 1999. Archives of Legislation of the Turkish Grand National Assembly (T.B.M.M.), available online at http://www.tbmm.gov.tr/.

 

 

 


[1] Here, the term “laicist” refers to the French model of militant secularism, in which the state is not only indifferent to religion, but often times takes action against religious entities.  This form of secularlism contrasts sharply with the American style of secularism, which protects the rights of all religious groups equally.

[2] Incidentally, seven years after airing the excerpts from Gülen’s video on ATV, Ali Kırca himself was the subject of a video scandal. High resolution video footage of Kırca having sex with a woman was first submitted to newspapers but was not published. Later the footage was made publicly available over the Internet. Kırca condemned the perpetrators, sued those who made the tape publicly accessible and temporarily left his anchorman position following the scandal.

[3] In July 31, 2003, U.S. District Court in southern New York issued  a $4.26 Billion Judgment against the Uzan Family for “perpetrating massive global fraud” against Motorola of U.S. and Nokia of Finland. The family faced a number of civil and criminal lawsuits at home, ranging from extortion to fraud some of which resulting in fines and prison sentences. In October 2009 Uzan sought asylum in France while facing time in prison on dozens of counts of fraud, embezzlement and similar crimes in Turkey. TIME article on Uzan can be found at http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,471150,00.html#ixzz0jbxeDBqz

[4] Leicht comments on a recent case of friction between the military hard liners and the government in the context of democratic reforms as part of Turkey’s process of joining the EU (Leicht, 2003).

[5] The Chief of Staff Hilmi Ozkok, who served between 2002 and 2006, has sometimes been criticized by hardliners as being “too democratic,” particularly since he has not applied military power against the ruling (religious right) party, AKP, which is viewed by some as a continuation of the former RP that was forced to step down from the ruling coalition in the late 1990s.

[6] http://www.nuveforum.net/18-tartisma-platformu/12105-batik-is-adami-generallerin-tam-listesi/

[7] Star newspaper and television, owned by the Uzan family, has since undergone various scandals of its own, including siphoning off company assets, fraud, racketeering and embezzlement. For a series of articles that appeared in New York Times on this topic please visit http://topics.nytimes.com/topics/reference/timestopics/people/u/uzan_family/index.html.

[8] Alluding to the charges from his own party that he is putting pressure on judges and prosecutors.

[9] The word “irtica” literally means to go back or take something back in time. It is a charged term, commonly employed against devout individuals or civic organizations, and suggests (antagonistically)  that they are trying to establish a theocratic state and apply the rules of the Qur’an that were established fourteen centuries ago.

[10] It is noteworthy that Menderes,  the former prime minister of Turkey who was hanged after a military coup in 1960, Turgut Ozal, a former president of Turkey, Süleyman Demirel, a former prime minister and president of Turkey, and Tayyıp Erdoğan, the current prime minister each have formerly been accused of trying or of assisting those who are trying to establish a theocratic state.

[11] The ANDIC event refers to the preparation of press releases with fabricated news by some generals, their dissemination to the media, and the media owners obligation to publish or air them.

[12] The aide of the terrorist chief, Öcalan.

[13] Owned by rival media mogul Doğan.

[14] Owned by interviewee Bilgin.

[15] Refers to the media.

[16] An aide to Bilgin, possibly referred to as a witness to corroborate his statement.

[17] The office of the assistant chief of staff of the Turkish military at that time.

[18] Nickname for the terrorist chief Öcalan.

[19] Which are usually in Istanbul.

[20] The ruling coalition of center right Doğruyol party and political Islamic Refah party.

[21] The TV anchorman who first aired the tapes and claimed that he was the person who instigated the media campaign against Gülen.

[22] There are a number of resources on the Ergenekon’s used of this tactic. As an example see http://www.turkishweekly.net/columnist/3088/ergenekon-case-and-indecent-proposals.html.

[23] The publisher of Aydınlık magazine, which first publicized the report about Gülen prepared by the Ankara Police Department chief  Saral and his team.

[24] Kırca was the first person to air the video tape excerpts about Gülen with intermittent commentary. He hosted the TV talk shaw with guests Hasmet Atahan, Necip Hablemitoğlu, Gülseven Yaşer, Kemal Yavuz and Turkan Saylan.

[25] Atahan was a guest in Kırca’s show. He had been charged and sentenced for Marxist-Leninist ideological terrorist activities before. He was among the protesters who drove U.S. navy soldiers of the Sixth Fleet away from the Istanbul port in 1969

[26] Bulut was the author of Who is this Fethullah Gülen? and was well known for his Marxist-Atheist views. His book was quoted heavily in the report about Gülen prepared by Saral’s team.

[27] One of the guests in Kırca’s TV talk shaw, Necip Hablemitoğlu. was not known as a Marxist; but, he wrote extensively about and against the influence of the intelligence services of the U.S., Israel and Germany in Turkey. Similar to Marxist-Maoist Perincek, editor of Aydınlık magazine, Hablemitoğlu connected Gülen with the Israeli and American intelligence services.


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