Thursday, April 30, 2009

Turkish diary in news coup

Turkish newspapers have reported in the last few days that a former commander of the Turkish armed forces, General Hilmi Özkök, has confirmed the existence of a coup plot in 2004. Allegations about such a coup were first made public in 2007 by a newspaper called Nokta which published extracts allegedly from the diary of Admiral Özden Örnek. Last year, The Diary Junction Blog ran two articles on this story when the editor of Nokta was taken to court for publishing the extracts. At the time, the coup allegations were being completely ignored by the authorities.

In 2007 ( The Diary Junction Blog wrote), the newsweekly Nokta (which subsequently closed down) published excerpts from a diary allegedly written by a former navy commander, Özden Örnek. The excerpts gave details of how Turkey narrowly escaped two military coups in 2004. Örnek himself was one of the coup plotters. He denied having written the diary entries and claimed they had been libelously attributed to him. During the course of a legal case against Nokta’s editor-in-chief, Alper Görmü, it was proven by a group of experts that the diaries did originate from Örnek’s computer. Görmü was subsequently acquitted of all charges.

At the time, the English-language newspaper, Today’s Zaman, drew strong conclusions from the case: ‘This acquittal implicitly verified the claims that top-ranking commanders of the army had been involved in attempts to stage coups. However, not even a single investigation has so far been launched against the coup plotters. This incident clearly indicates that even those who attempt stage coups are very well protected. To this day, none of those who have made these attempts have been investigated, despite very clear and open evidence, let alone tried.’

Soon after, however, Turkish prosecutors did begin to look into the alleged coup, referred to as Ergenekon (see Wikipedia), and since then the case has been widely reported in the Turkish newspapers. Yesterday (29 April), Today’s Zaman reported that the prosecutors had secretly traveled to İzmir to take testimony from General Özkök, and the article gave some details: 

‘In response to the prosecution’s question, “Have there been any coup plans during your term?” Özkök said, “Most of what has been detailed in the coup diaries is true. However, there are also sections I do not agree with. For example, Örnek has denied that the diaries belonged to him. If a commander is saying that these don't belong to him, I would respect his statement. However, some of the incidents mentioned there have transpired. I have observed myself that some of our friends in the Turkish Armed Forces felt great distrust and worry regarding the government. There was discord over how to express this unease some commanders felt.” ’

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