Turkish prosecutor arrested

This doesn’t seem to have gotten a lot of attention, but Kemal Kerencsiz was arrested last month.

Kemal Kerincsiz is a Turkish lawyer. He’s also the guy who tried to prosecute Turkish Nobel Prize winner Orhan Pamuk, Turkish-Armenian editor Hrant Dink, and several other writers for “insulting Turkishness”. And he’s been arrested — along with 32 others, including several military men — for being part of a massive conspiracy to commit violent acts against enemies of the state. The conspiracy is called “Ergenekon”, and the story is still coming out.

The strange thing is that I had to discover this on the blog of science fiction writer Bruce Sterling. There were articles in Reuters and the AP, but the major western news outlets seem to have pretty much ignored this. But it’s quite a story:

[The] investigation uncovered evidence of active plots to assassinate Pamuk, three politicians, and a prominent journalist and to stage a series of bombings in the coming year, according to reports appearing in the Turkish Press. One source, CNN Turk, has reported that Kerincsiz and twelve others have been charged with inciting people to armed revolt.

Kemal Kerincsiz was behind a number of notorious court proceedings in Turkey in recent years. In May 2005 he filed a complaint that led to the cancellation of an academic conference entitled “The Ottoman Armenians in the Period of the Declining Empire,” and when journalist Hrant Dink received a suspended sentence that same year for “insulting Turkishness,” Kerincsiz appealed seeking a harsher punishment. [This is the same Hrant Dink who was killed last year in Istanbul.]

The trials he initiated often became the settings for ultranationalist demonstrations and intimidation, as when Dink and members of his newspapers staff were physically and verbally attacked at a court hearing in 2006, and Dink, Pamuk, and others hauled into court under Article 301 were the targets of numerous death threats. Hrant Dink was shot dead outside his newspaper’s office on January 19, 2007.

“In addition to Kerincsiz and another lawyer, those arrested in the past week include retired military general and other officers, a journalist, and organized crime figures. Many were detained in dawn raids across Turkey last Tuesday. Meanwhile, Turkish lawmakers are reportedly working on a measure to amend Article 301, the insult law under which dozens of writers and journalists have been prosecuted in recent years.”

All this happened in late January. Turkish prosecutors have clamped down hard on news leaks, so there hasn’t been a lot of hard news in the last three weeks. Still, bits and pieces are emerging:

Revelations emanating from the investigation thus far have shown that many of the attacks attributed to separatist or Islamist groups or seen as hate crimes against minorities were actually “inside jobs.”

The investigation into the gang… has exposed solid links between an attack on the Council of State in 2006, threats and attacks against people accused of being unpatriotic and a 1996 car crash known as the Susurluk incident, which revealed links between a police chief, a convicted ultranationalist fugitive and a member of Parliament as well as links to plans of some groups in Turkey’s powerful military to overthrow the government….

The gang is a part of a structure named Ergenekon, declared a terrorist organization by the Ä°stanbul Chief Prosecutor’s Office, an aggregation of many groups of varying sizes, many of which have in their names adjectives such as “patriotic,” “national,” “nationalist,” “Kemalist” or “Atatürkist.” Ergenekon is the name of a legend that describes how Turks came into existence…

The investigation has found that the Ergenekon phenomenon, also referred to as Turkey’s “deep state,” stages attacks using “behind-the-scenes” paramilitary organizations to manipulate public opinion according its own political agenda…

The investigation has so far found that the Ergenekon organization had plotted to kill Turkey’s Nobel Prize-winning author Orhan Pamuk and other public figures to drag Turkey into chaos to create the perfect environment for a coup — not unlike the atmosphere of the pre-1980 period, which ended with a violent military takeover — that was to be staged in 2009. Evidence so far also suggests that 700 kilograms of explosives found loaded on a van in Ä°stanbul belonged to this gang. An attack against the Association for the Union of Patriotic Forces (VKGB), also a murky group with shadowy affiliations, in Diyarbakır was actually staged by the VKGB itself, according the investigation. The attack had then been blamed on the terrorist Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) organization. There is also evidence linking the Ergenekon gang to the assassination of Necip HablemitoÄŸlu, shot to death in 2002 after concluding that residents of the Bergama region campaigning against gold prospecting in the area were being manipulated by Germans protecting their economic interests, in a comprehensive study he conducted on the subject. Ä°brahim Çiftçi, an Ä°zmir businessman questioned over the HablemitoÄŸlu murder as a key suspect, was later killed by a hand grenade thrown into his Alsancak office, which, according to the businessman’s son, was the work of the gang to keep him silent.

There’s more, but I lack the background to easily sort signal from noise.

This entry was posted in A Fistful Of Euros, Terrorism and tagged by Douglas Muir. Bookmark the permalink.

About Douglas Muir

American with an Irish passport. Does development work for a big international donor. Has been living in Eastern Europe for the last six years -- first Serbia, then Romania, and now Armenia. Calls himself a Burkean conservative, which would be a liberal in Germany but an unhappy ex-Republican turned Democrat in the US. Husband of Claudia. Parent of Alan, David, Jacob and Leah. Likes birds. Writes Halfway Down The Danube. Writes Halfway Down The Danube.

4 thoughts on “Turkish prosecutor arrested

  1. Well if you consider the Susurluk incident is more or less the concluding scene of Sterling’s novel Zeitgeist, it’s not so surprising that you’d find it there. He’s been following this stuff since the mid-90s at least.

    And your last sentence is maybe as good a reason as any as to why so little coverage beyond pro forma wire notices. That and the clampdown from official Turkish sources.

    Once you get close to terms like “deep state” and groups like the Grey Wolves, you quickly get to machinations that are, for want of a better word, Byzantine. Plus the whole looking-glass quality of things dealing with spies and double agents. The reporters have probably all read their LeCarre and stared into the abyss, and are not at all sure about what is staring back. Plus the chilling effect of Dink’s assassination. Who wants to risk a murky death for the sake of a complicated dispatch that no one will understand because the editors have to leave half the copy on the cutting room floor?

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  3. Zeitgeist is a wonderful novel! I hope one day they’ll collect it along with the other Iggy Starlitz stories.

    Doug M.

  4. Zeitgeist is one of my Sterling faves, one I actually re-read just for the zing. And from certain angles it looks spookily prescient. Plus still relevant getting on to a decade later, as this post shows.

    Do you think AK will be able to clean enough house in this direction? Without losing the relative moderation that’s its chance for eventual EU membership?

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