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Turkish PM: Ergenekon organization, Sledgehammer coup plan were real

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Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım told deputies from his party at a private meeting on Friday that the Sledgehammer coup plot, devised by the clandestine Ergenekon organization to remove then-Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in 2003 was real, a daily reported.

According to a story in the Hürriyet newspaper on Saturday, Yıldırım underlined that the trial of generals and members of the Turkish military for membership in the Ergenekon terrorist organization was diluted by “FETÖ” members.

“FETÖ” is an acronym for the Fethullahist Terrorist Organization, a term the government coined to refer to sympathizers of the Gülen movement, especially those in the state bureaucracy.

“There are people, power centers that want to set our party members against one another by saying there are FETÖ members in the ruling party who have yet to be cleared out,” Yıldırım said.

President Erdoğan and the Justice and Development Party (AKP) government accuse Fethullah Gülen, the inspirer of the Gülen movement, of masterminding a corruption investigation in December 2013 and a coup attempt on July 15 in order to overthrow the government.

Implicating important public figures, including retired army generals, politicians, media representatives and civil society leaders, the Ergenekon trial, which began in 2008, was one of the most complicated cases in Turkish political history as then-Prime Minister and current President Erdoğan supported the prosecutors in order to strengthen his position against the Turkish army, which has been influential in Turkish politics throughout its history.

The AKP and Erdoğan were strongly in support of the legal process of the Ergenekon trial, and Erdoğan once had even claimed that he was the “public prosecutor” of the case.

However, things changed for the AKP and Erdoğan when its members in December 2013 were the subjects of a corruption investigation and he, this time, claimed that Ergenekon was a conspiracy against the Turkish military by FETÖ members.

Following a massive purge in the police force and the judiciary, the Supreme Court of Appeals in June 2014 ordered a retrial of Ergenekon convicts, some of them sentenced to life in prison. All 365 suspects in the case were acquitted in the retrial, and some of the Ergenekon suspects, such as retired army generals and members of the judiciary, were reinstated in their former positions after the AKP government dismissed thousands of bureaucrats, including top judicial members, military generals and diplomats, on coup charges and membership in “FETÖ” following the failed coup attempt.

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