Avcı’s claims in new book lack any evidence, experts say

August 24, 2010, Tuesday/ 16:20:00/ TODAY'S ZAMAN
Security experts have been quick to discredit the claims raised by Hanefi Avcı, the police chief of the Central Anatolian province of Eskişehir, in his recent book, “Haliç’te Yaşayan Simonlar” (Simons in the Golden Horn), saying the book lacks evidential support to sustain his controversial accusations.

In his book Avcı argues that the Ergenekon trial is a conspiracy run by the government to silence its critics but acknowledges he has no proof to back up his charges. He also claims judges and prosecutors investigating military plots to topple the government are linked to Fethullah Gülen, who he accuses of secretly planning to overthrow the institutions of the state, including the police.

Avcı’s claims were denied by Gülen’s attorney, Orhan Erdemli, as imaginary and baseless. He said labeling the security forces and members of the judiciary as Gülen proxies is a great insult to the courageous work these people are doing on a daily basis, risking their lives and reputations. Erdemli said these claims had been raised by others in the past but they, too, had failed to offer any proof. He emphasized that his client has won many cases involving such false accusations and personal attacks and that courts have awarded him monetary compensation for damages.

Indeed, a criminal case investigating similar accusations and claims against Gülen ended with his acquittal on all charges, and this acquittal was upheld in the appellate courts, as well. In its reasoned decision in 2006, the Ankara 11th High Criminal Court said: “There is no evidence proving that Gülen aimed at changing the constitutional system or resorted to force and violence. On the contrary, he was threatened by fundamentalist terrorist organizations for his friendly attitudes toward the state.” This reasoned decision makes it clear that claims that Gülen was aiming to change the constitutional system were not substantiated.

Bülent Orakoğlu, former deputy chief of the police department’s intelligence unit and previously Avcı’s boss, said he was baffled by the claims, stressing that all of his accusations had already been dismissed in a court of law. He suggested that the real target of the book is the intelligence unit in the police, which has been successful in uncovering military plots against the government. Some of these plots include the assassination of minority leaders in order to create an embarrassment for the government. Orakoğlu argued that Gülen was being used as a scapegoat in this smear campaign launched by Avcı.

Önder Aytaç, who works with the Security Studies Institute in Ankara, said Avcı became the victim of his own greed and frustration. Political observers in the Turkish capital noted Avcı’s name had once been mentioned as a candidate for high-ranking posts, such as head of the intelligence service or chief of the Ankara police, but the government did not appoint him to any of these posts. Instead, he was posted as the chief of police in Eskişehir. They said being passed over for promotion might have upset him and inspired him to attempt to take revenge on the government through this book.

Aytaç also underlined the timing of the publication, coming immediately ahead of a public referendum on government-backed constitutional reforms, emphasizing that it raised red flags. “The rush in publishing the book, which has many conflicting accounts of what happened in different events, signals that some circles wanted to boost the ‘no’ campaign on the eve of the public referendum for constitutional changes,” he said.

Avcı made a reputation for himself after he worked as head of the Diyarbakır branch of the Security Directorate for seven years, from the end of 1984 until March 1992, and was a key figure in uncovering JİTEM, an illegal gendarmerie intelligence unit whose existence has always been denied by the General Staff despite a growing body of evidence indicating that it does indeed exist.

The Interior Ministry has launched an investigation into Avci, who still retains his post in Eskişehir.

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