Former army chief İlker Başbuğ was summoned to testify over his remarks on the political leg of the movement of the U.S.-based Islamic preacher Fethullah Gülen – an ally-turned-foe of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP).
Başbuğ was called to testify as a suspect on allegations of “slandering” and “insulting” as part of the probe launched by Ankara Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office.
Başbuğ, the 26th chief of the general staff of Turkey, previously accused the politicians who paved the way for civilian courts to try military personnel in 2009 of being the “political leg” of the Gülen movement, which is officially called the Fethullahist Terrorist Organization (FETÖ).
“Who prepared this bill? This is completely about FETÖ. It should be looked into,” Başbuğ said on Jan. 28, prompting harsh response from AKP ranks.
Six deputies sued Başbuğ shortly after his remarks upon President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s orders.
“You should sue him in order to protect the law of parliament,” Erdoğan said at the time, while also defending the bill.
The former army chief said that statements by Erdoğan and the AKP would make “FETÖ happy before everyone else,” adding that FETÖ was the one to benefit from the bill the most.
Başbuğ served as Turkey’s chief of general staff from 2008 to 2010. In 2012 he was arrested and spent 26 months in prison as part of a controversial trial. It was subsequently revealed that his arrest was one of the many plotted by former judicial officials loyal to Gülen, later believed to have been behind the July 15, 2016 coup attempt.
The AKP and Gülenists had friendly ties before the Dec. 17-25, 2013 graft probes that targeted figures close to the AKP and Erdoğan, as prosecutors purportedly loyal to the movement launched the wide-ranging probes.
The debate surrounding the political leg of Gülenists has been ongoing for years. The scope of Gülenist infiltration into state institutions was made clear after the coup attempt that claimed the lives of over 250 people.