Former Chief of General Staff retired Gen. Hilmi Özkök was the target of a planned assassination, which was prevented when the US Secret Service discovered the plans, a newsweekly reported this week.
According to the newsweekly Yeni Aktüel, in the year 2003 a rift between top army generals arose over their differing stances on the Justice and Development Party (AK Party) government. In this period, hawkish Naval Commander Adm. Özden Örnek and Air Force Commander Gen. İbrahim Fırtına became closer to Gendarmerie Commander Gen. Şener Eruygur, now under arrest on charges of having plotted a coup. All those involved have since reached the ends of their terms in office.
The assassination of Gen. Özkök in February 2004 was among the group's plans, but the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) warned Ankara of the plans on Feb. 3, 2004, Yeni Aktüel claims. The routes used by Özkök in his daily activities were changed after the warning, and security measures were greatly intensified.
The newsweekly also reported that after Özkök became aware of the assassination plan, he had gendarmerie headquarters meetings between the involved generals secretly recorded on video. Yeni Aktüel claims Özkök called Eruygur into his office at the General Staff headquarters and showed him a recording of a meeting Eruygur had organized to plan a coup.
Eruygur was reportedly shocked to see that his "secret" meeting had been taped and reacted by saying, "My headquarters betrayed me!" Özkök then reportedly reminded Eruygur that he had committed a crime punishable by law. All high-ranking officials in the Gendarmerie Forces were assigned to positions outside the capital after this incident.
"He was walking like he was drunk and barely managed to reach his official car. Everybody was very curious about what had happened in Özkök's room during this long meeting. Eruygur and his friends had been expecting Özkök to resign, so what else could have been happened inside that shocked Eruygur so deeply?" Yeni Aktüel quoted a witness of the incident as saying.
Speaking to the Milliyet daily on Wednesday, Özkök did not deny claims about the coup attempts that happened during his commandership. Last year the former chief of General Staff commented: "Everything will be revealed when the right time comes. For instance, countries' secret archives are revealed after a certain amount of time passes. Everything may be revealed when the time comes, either by me or other people."
Another claim was put forth by journalist Yasemin Çongar in her column in the Taraf daily yesterday. According to her, the National Intelligence Organization (MİT) has long been aware of the existence of the Ergenekon organization, senior members of which are currently under arrest on charges of plotting a coup.
Ergenekon probe statement this Monday
İstanbul Deputy Chief Prosecutor Turan Çolakkadı told reporters yesterday that examination of the 2,500-page indictment against a neo-nationalist gang is not yet been complete but that a news conference on the investigation is planned for July 14. The existence of the Ergenekon criminal network, which allegedly plotted to overthrow the Justice and Development Party (AK Party) government, was revealed after police seized hand grenades, TNT explosives and fuses in a shanty house in İstanbul on June 12, 2007. The İstanbul Chief Prosecutor's Office subsequently launched an investigation. Eighty-five suspects currently fall within the scope of the investigation, of which 48, including retired Gen. Veli Küçük and Workers' Party (İP) Chairman Doğu Perinçek, are in prison.
Last Mod: 12 Temmuz 2008, 08:05