Fethullah Gülen’s lawyer has denied that the Turkish Islamic scholar has any links with Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s former chief bodyguard, who was detained in an investigation into covert listening devices found in the prime minister’s office in 2012.
The lawyer, Nurullah Albayrak, said that pro-government circles are disseminating the slanderous claims as part of an anti-Hizmet movement propaganda campaign.
Albayrak released a written statement on responding to claims in media outlets close to the Justice and Development Party (AK Party) government suggesting that Gülen was linked to the detained bodyguard, saying the stories are run with juxtaposed photographs of the men. Calling the reports slander, Albayrak said: “A group of media outlets that declared my client Fethullah Gülen guilty without a trial months ago continue their slander over the bugging investigation of June 17, 2014. The attempts to link a team of Prime Ministry bodyguards — one of the most prestigious units of the state — with my client is Wednesday either lawful nor ethical.”
Albayrak also said that attempts to link the bodyguard with Gülen are irresponsible and part of an anti-Hizmet movement propaganda campaign being conducted over the last seven months, adding that his client will exercise all his legal rights against the media outlets that reported baseless slander.
The bugging investigation entered a new phase on Tuesday as police acting on orders from prosecutor Duran Çetin launched a series of raids in several provinces, including İstanbul, Ankara, Yozgat, Karabük and Diyarbakır. Arrest warrants were issued for 12 suspects, but police detained 11 in the operation as one of the suspects, identified as Serhat D., was abroad at the time, the Hürriyet daily reported on Tuesday. Turkish media outlets said that among the detainees are a senior police chief, M.Y., and the former chief bodyguard of the prime minister, Z.B.
The detainees were taken to hospitals for medical examinations on Wednesday and then to the Ankara Police Department for questioning.
Holding a press conference in Parliament on Wednesday, Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) parliamentary group deputy chairman Oktay Vural said the Tuesday detentions were part of the bugging investigation. “We are facing a strange situation. First, they couldn’t find a bugging device in the beginning. They planted the bugging devices and then launched an operation so the devices could be found. … They have been trying to create a perception. How can it be possible for those who cannot even ensure their own safety to ensure our [the public’s] safety?”
Erdoğan claimed in December 2012 that four bugging devices had been discovered in the offices of his Subayevleri home and at a Prime Ministry building in Ankara, without giving details about how the devices had been found but promising that an investigation would be launched.
The long-running investigation has so far produced few results, and given the lingering concerns of critics who are weary of government interference in the judicial process, it is bound to end.