Hıfzı Çubuklu, a legal representative for the General Staff who is jailed as part of a case into anti-government websites allegedly established by the military to discredit the government, said in his defense statement at court on Monday that some of the controversial websites were established during the terms of former Chiefs of General Staff Gen. Hilmi Özkök and Gen. Yaşar Büyükanıt.
At the latest hearing of the propaganda websites trial at the İstanbul 13th High Criminal Court, Çubuklu said a controversial news piece titled “Prayer show at the apron” and posted on irtica.org -- one of the propaganda websites -- that was later used as evidence in a closure case against the ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party) in 2008 was posted during Büyükanıt's term as chief of General Staff.
Çubuklu said the fact that no legal action was taken against the highest-ranking officers of the time but was instead taken against individuals who had nothing to do with the propaganda websites does not conform to the individuality of criminal law.
“It is unacceptable from an ethical perspective that two military-run websites published stories in 2007 and 2008 against the AK Party government; however, this situation had nothing to do with my responsibilities,” he said.
Çubuklu also recalled that the websites being investigated as part of the case were established in 1998.
“You just captured us. The irtica.org website was established on April 1, 2006. You know the chief of General Staff at the time was Gen. Hilmi Özkök,” he said.
The investigation into the propaganda websites began in 2010 based on evidence found at the home of retired Col. Hasan Ataman Yıldırım, another suspect in the websites case. Later, an anonymous tipster from inside the military sent an email to inform the public and prosecutors that the General Staff had established 42 websites for the sole purpose of disseminating propaganda against the government and religious communities.
The propaganda websites case was recently merged with the case against Ergenekon, a clandestine criminal network alleged to have links within the state and that is suspected of plotting to topple the government.