Former, current intelligence chiefs to testify in KCK terrorism probe

M?T Undersecretary Hakan Fidan. (Photo: AA)
A chief prosecutor on Wednesday confirmed that the National Intelligence Organization (M?T) undersecretary, his predecessor and a former deputy undersecretary were summoned to testify in an ongoing probe into a Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) affiliated organization.
?stanbul Deputy Chief Public Prosecutor Fikret Seçen on Wednesday said M?T Undersecretary Hakan Fidan, his predecessor Emre Taner and M?T Deputy Undersecretary Afet Güne? were summoned to testify in the ongoing investigation into the Kurdish Communities Union (KCK), which Turkish prosecutors say is a group that controls the PKK and other affiliated groups. Reports said the three became suspects following recently disclosed talks they had with members of the PKK in Oslo.
Most commentators didn’t know what to make of the recent twist in the KCK investigation as Fidan was hand-picked by Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdo?an for his position. Observers recalled that the prime minister said late last year — after his Justice and Development Party (AK Party) was accused of cracking down on the Kurdish opposition when Bü?ra Ersanl?, an academic at Marmara University, was arrested as part of the KCK investigation — that those who “look out for the KCK should reconsider their stance.” Erdo?an had not made a comment on the recent developments by the time Today’s Zaman went to print on Wednesday. On Wednesday, Republican People’s Party (CHP) deputy Tanju Özcan said he had filed charges against Fidan and Güne?, speaking at a press conference at Parliament. He didn’t say when the charges were filed. He also said Prime Minister Erdo?an should be included in the investigation. However, sources Today’s Zaman talked to say that new evidence — including testimonies from suspects and witnesses as well as letters exchanged between senior KCK members and PKK leader Abdullah Öcalan, which prosecutors say were used for relaying orders for attacks to the PKK — obtained in the most recent operations into the KCK has played a role in the three men being summoned.
Also the fact that some people arrested in KCK operations recently were M?T agents and information provided by these individuals was also considered. Some of these agents, the prosecution suspects, might have crossed the line and collaborated in KCK crimes.

Foreign Minister Ahmet Davuto?lu on Wednesday threw his support behind M?T chief Fidan and his team saying, “Mr. Fidan, the former undersecretary who was in charge at the time [of the Oslo talks], and his team have done the right thing.”

It is clear in the recording of the talks that they were held at a time when Fidan was still serving as a deputy undersecretary at the Prime Ministry. Fidan was appointed as head of the M?T in May 2010.

Deputy Prime Minister Bülent Ar?nç commented on the prosecutor’s move on Wednesday, saying he does not think that it would be legally possible to summon an active duty M?T undersecretary to testify as a suspect without notifying his superiors. Noting that it is not still certain whether Fidan will testify as a suspect or witness, Ar?nç said, “But in order for him to be included in the investigation [as a suspect], I think there should be some permission,” he added.

Adem Yavuz Arslan, a journalist who has written extensively on Turkish intelligence, said: “The KCK investigation has been underway in various parts of Turkey since 2009. The fact that both Fidan and Güne? have been summoned along with Fidan indicate that this [investigation] is not limited to the Oslo talks. This indicates that the prosecution now has access to evidence from the period predating the start of the investigation in 2009. What they have, we do not know. It is most certainly an extraordinary situation.”

Deputy Chairman of the pro-Kurdish Peace and Democracy Party’s (BDP) Parliamentary Group Hasip Kaplan said all lawyers or journalists who have visited ?mral? — the prison island where PKK’s jailed leader Öcalan is being held since 1997 — have been called to testify by the prosecutors. “But if the [intelligence chiefs] say, ‘we were ordered by other people, and this is why we went [for talks in Oslo],’ then that would be a new story,” Kaplan said.

“We do not yet know exactly on what subject they were summoned,” said CHP Konya deputy Atilla Kart. “I think this investigation is only about putting on a show. I don’t think this will be a fair investigation, because if it was a serious investigation, the political aspect at work here should also be included. However, I don’t think the current mechanisms of prosecution in Turkey are in a position to carry out such an investigation.”

In yet another unexpected twist, the head of the ?stanbul Police Department’s Counterterrorism Unit Yurt Atayün and the Intelligence chief Erol Demirhan were removed from office on Wednesday. Both police chiefs were in charge of directing the investigation into the KCK.

In fact, whether or not the intelligence chiefs were summoned was initially a source of controversy. Commenting on the initial reports earlier in the day, ?stanbul Chief Public Prosecutor Turan Çolakkad? said that he had no information with regards to the alleged move by prosecutor Sar?kaya. “If any prosecutor at the ?stanbul Public Prosecutor’s Office has made such a request, I should have been informed about that. Unless I have such information, it cannot be true that those people were summoned to testify,” he said.

However, Seçen confirmed later in the day that the three were summoned to deliver their testimonies over the phone, adding that they were invited to the Be?ikta? Courthouse on Thursday. However, he refused to respond to questions on whether the three were suspects in the case or not.

An almost 50-minute-long voice recording was leaked late last year, which revealed that Fidan had attended a meeting with the PKK in Oslo as the “special envoy of Turkish Prime Minister Erdo?an.” At the time, Fidan was serving as deputy undersecretary at the Prime Ministry and had not yet been appointed head of M?T.

Deputy Undersecretary Güne? represented the intelligence organization at the meeting. Senior PKK leaders Mustafa Karasu, Sabit Ok and Zübeyr Aydar met with government representatives under the mediation of a representative from an unknown “coordinator country.”

The KCK investigation, in which Fidan and two others will testify, started in December 2009, and a large number of Kurdish politicians, including several mayors from the BDP, have been detained. The suspects are accused of various crimes, including membership in a terrorist organization, aiding and abetting a terrorist organization and attempting to destroy the country’s unity and integrity. BDP officials have said the investigation is the government’s way of suppressing BDP politicians, denying any links between the suspects and any terrorist organizations.

Turkey first heard about the KCK in 2009 but prosecutors say the KCK was established in 2005 upon the order of jailed PKK leader Abdullah Öcalan. A 7,578-page indictment accepted by Diyarbak?r’s 6th Criminal Court on June 18, 2010, explains the general structure of the KCK, as has been revealed from documents obtained by authorities.

The indictment says the organization has its own parliament, constitution and judicial branches. The structure was defined as a “confederate system.” The KCK allegedly possesses both a lateral and a pyramid-shaped organizational structure, and is active not only in Turkey but also in Syria, Iran and Iraq.

By forming an alternative to the official branches of justice, management and politics in these countries, it provides a roof under which its supporters can gather

In related developments on Wednesday, a civil society group representing Turkish veterans filed charges of establishing a criminal organization, threatening the unity and integrity of the Turkish state, committing crimes on behalf of a terrorist group and aiding and abetting an armed terrorist group against Prime Minister Erdo?an, Deputy Prime Minister Be?ir Atalay and the three intelligence chiefs with the Ankara Prosecutor’s office. The veterans, speaking outside the prosecutor’s office, said they had lost their eyes, legs and arms fighting terrorists, expressing their resentment of the talks the Turkish state had with the PKK in Oslo.

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