The government instructed Turkey’s National Intelligence Agency (MİT) not to provide the Turkish Armed Forces (TSK) with information regarding military officers dismissed over their ties to the movement of the U.S.-based Islamic preacher Fethullah Gülen, according to the lawyer of former army chief İlker Başbuğ.
A journalist on CNN’s Turkish affiliate asked Başbuğ’s lawyer İlkay Sezer on June 11 how many military officers were dismissed from their positions due to the said ties during Başbug’s tenure as the head of the military between 2008-2010.
Sezer responded by pointing to a testimony provided by MİT chief Hakan Fidan to a commission staffed with researching the July 15, 2016 coup attempt. Fidan reportedly told the commission that MİT received instructions from the government at the time not to provide information to the military regarding the Gülenists.
Close allies for many years, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) refer to the Gülen movement as the Fethullahist Terror Organization (FETÖ) and says the group was behind the failed July 2016 coup. Amid rising tensions, Erdoğan’s falling out with the Gülenists was cemented after a December 2013 corruption probe launched by Gülenist judges that targeted government ministers.
Başbuğ appeared in court on June 12 to testify on charges of insulting public officials that were filed against him after causing the ire of President Erdoğan in February. Erdoğan blasted Başbuğ after the former general said that a legislation passed in 2009 that enabled military personnel to be tried in civilian courses paved the way for the Ergenekon trials.
After Erdoğan’s reaction, six AKP deputies filed criminal complaints against Başbuğ.
Başbuğ was convicted in 2013 on terror charges in the Ergenekon case, considered one of the infamous sham trials launched by Gülenists in the judiciary to target their enemies and consolidate their power in state structures. In 2012, Erdoğan said that he did not think Başbuğ was a terrorist and called for him to be tried without imprisonment. Başbuğ was sentenced to life, but the charges were overturned by the Constitutional Court in 2014 and he was released.
Başbuğ’s lawyer Sezer said that “if the things Başbuğ said while on duty were implemented, July 15 would not have taken place.”