Officers confirm destruction of evidence at military headquarters
According to the testimony of people interviewed as part of the investigation, many documents were shredded, while some computers were removed from the unit.
The prosecutors leading the investigation listened to the testimony of 20 officers, civil servants and soldiers who served at the headquarters. Their statements included in the indictment evidence a massive clean-up effort after the abovementioned action plan hit the press on June 12, 2009, in the Taraf daily. Among the witnesses is Col. Ziya İlker Göktaş, who served at the Land Forces Command Intelligence School. He explains that on the evening of June 19, 2009, while he was attending a wedding, he was called back to the base by Col. Nuri Yıldırım and was told to gather useless old documents and put them in the archives. Göktaş places the timing of this event a week following the revelation of the action plan to the public. Göktaş says his duties at the Second Information Support Unit where he worked included tasks such as “fighting against reactionaryism and tracking the activities of missionaries.” He explains that the websites “irtica.org” and “aslan.org” also busied his unit and that they published news stories that portrayed the Turkish Armed Forces (TSK) in a positive light.
He says he once used his credit card to pay the fee to renew the websites’ domain licenses that had expired and that he was reimbursed by the General Staff for this expenditure. The officer explains how their computers were sent away, and he and his colleagues were instructed not to work using computers. The places of workers at the unit were also changed.
Meltem Ağırgün, a data preparation employee at the Information Support Unit Presidency, says they were instructed by their superiors to destroy documents in a matter that contradicted their procedural rules -- for example, without keeping track of what was destroyed -- and claims that the same thing happened at other units within the General Staff. Between the years of 2004 and 2007, when Ağırgün worked with Col. Dursun Çiçek, they also busied themselves with updating websites, posting new news stories from the media every day.
Hakan Kaya worked as a civil servant at the Second Information Support Unit between 1997 and 2009. Kaya says after the action plan went public, he was called to the unit after the end of work hours on June 19, 2009, and that they worked until 2 or 3 a.m. destroying documents. Kaya draws attention to the fact that no records were kept regarding the document destruction.
Col. Cemal Gökçeoğlu says he worked at the Fifth Information Support Unit at the General Staff and explains that every year certain documents are destroyed according to certain criteria but that following the action plan’s emergence orders were given to destroy documents from June 19-20, 2009. The shredded papers were bagged and sent to the waste management department for disposal, he said.
Cüneyt Alkan, who said he worked at the Information Support Unit Presidency as an aide to Gen. Mustafa Bakıcı, describes how after the action plan hit the papers, Col. Çiçek requested to meet with Bakıcı but before this meeting, the document shredding operation had commenced. Alkan says they gathered the civil servants that worked at the unit and told them that documents were to be destroyed. The order, he says, came from Hulusi Gülbahar, Çiçek and Göktaş. Telling prosecutors that they destroyed documents all night, Alkan said: “Four to five vehicles were loaded up after the destruction; the destroyed documents were put into black bags. The documents were shredded in a space allocated for this at the General Staff -- and most of the documents to be shredded were brought by Col. Nuri Yıldırım.”