Maj. Gen. Mustafa Bakıcı, for whom an İstanbul court issued an arrest warrant in August of last year as part of a probe into the establishment of several websites that allegedly ran propaganda campaigns against civilian groups on behalf of the Turkish Armed Forces (TSK), was seen in Germany after first fleeing to Russia to evade arrest, Turkish media reported on Monday.
According to Turkish intelligence, Bakıcı is currently residing in Germany under the safeguard of former İstanbul Mayor Bedrettin Dalan, who is being sought under an arrest warrant as a suspect in the Ergenekon case. Ergenekon is a clandestine organization accused of various crimes committed for the purpose of creating chaos in the country to trigger a coup. Some Turks in Germany have also told the Turkish government that they have seen Bakıcı in Germany with Dalan, who escaped detention in a wave of arrests in 2009 because he was in the US. Dalan had announced shortly after the raids of his home that he could not return to Turkey because of a heart condition.
The Turkish government requested that Germany send both escapees to Turkey; however, the German government has yet to respond to this request. Furthermore, despite Interpol having issued a red notice on Dalan, Germany has still not taken any interest in the matter.
Bakıcı, who headed the 23rd Border Division Command, was assigned to a desk job at the Land Forces Command inspection department during this year's Supreme Military Council (YAŞ) due to his suspected involvement in the anti-government website campaign. He was among 14 suspects for whom the İstanbul 13th High Criminal Court issued arrest warrants on Aug. 8 as part of the investigation after an indictment prepared by the prosecutor overseeing the case was accepted by the court.
After an appeal of the decision was turned down, he was hospitalized at the Gülhane Military Academy of Medicine (GATA). He was released from GATA in November of last year. He then began in his new position at the Land Forces Command but submitted a petition seeking one month of leave, which was approved by his superiors. The general's whereabouts have been unknown since.
Bakıcı, who refused to turn himself in to prosecutors, reportedly submitted a petition to the Land Forces Command via his wife and requested retirement. Although the General Staff's legal department opposed his retirement on the grounds that the general should have been handed over to civilian prosecutors and that approving his retirement would be illegal, his petition for retirement was approved and he retired on Sept. 20.
After Bakıcı's family said they knew nothing of his whereabouts, police informed border gates and airports of the situation and discovered that Bakıcı had left the country and fled to Russia through northern Iraq. He was also discovered to have withdrawn all the money from his bank accounts, which some reports say amounted to TL 300,000, before his escape.
Bakıcı is among the key suspects in the ongoing investigation into the alleged anti-government websites. The investigation into the propaganda websites began in 2010 based on evidence found in the home of retired Col. Hasan Ataman Yıldırım, another suspect in the website case. Later, an anonymous tipster from inside the military sent an email to inform the public and the prosecutors that the General Staff had established 42 websites for the sole purpose of disseminating propaganda about the government and religious communities.
The content of the websites indicates that they were used as part of the Action Plan to Fight Reactionaryism allegedly drafted by Col. Dursun Çiçek. Çiçek's suspected plan of action details a military plan to destroy the image of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party) and the faith-based Gülen movement in the eyes of the public, play down the Ergenekon investigation and gather support for members of the military arrested as part of the investigation into Ergenekon.