“That document on propaganda websites is authentic. I would have also said this [action] plan is also authentic if it were. I have been saying there cannot be such a plan. This is not a document, just a piece of paper, but it is enough to keep us under arrest,” Çiçek said as he confirmed the existence of the propaganda websites while denying the authenticity of the action plan during the 22nd hearing of the trial on the military plot at the İstanbul 13th High Criminal Court in Silivri.
The investigation into the propaganda websites Çiçek referred to began in 2010 based on evidence found in the home of retired Col. Hasan Ataman Yıldırım, a 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 prosecution was able to uncover the initial order for the General Staff website during the investigation. The order had the signatures of eight people, including those of Col. Cemal Gökçeoğlu and Çiçek. The document was dated April 2009 and originated in the office of the deputy chief of the General Staff Operations Department, who was Gen. Hasan Iğsız at the time. An İstanbul high criminal court last week accepted an indictment into the websites.
Çiçek, whose signature appears both on an order concerning the illegal military websites and on the action plan, recently testified voluntarily in the website investigation. He said he had been ordered by higher-ranking officers to create the anti-government websites in response to an earlier statement by the General Staff, which said the websites were created for the purpose of creating awareness about national security and terrorism threats and blamed Col. Çiçek for having overstepped his orders. Çiçek responded saying if his practices regarding the websites were in fact out of line, the General Staff could have taken administrative or disciplinary action against him.
The content of the websites indicates that they were used as part of the Action Plan to Fight Reactionaryism allegedly drafted by Çiçek.
Çiçek's suspected action plan 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, a clandestine organization nested within the state and bureaucracy accused of plotting to overthrow the government. The plot is believed to have been prepared by Col. Çiçek, who is currently in prison on coup charges.
Çiçek and six other suspects, including lawyer Serdar Öztürk; Ulusal TV security head Ufuk Akkaya; Aydınlık Editor-in-Chief Deniz Yıldırım; İlhami Ümit Handan, the secretary of former İstanbul Mayor Bedrettin Dalan; and National Intelligence Organization (MİT) official Özel Yılmaz are on trial in the case.