Former police intelligence chief Ali Fuat Yılmazer said in a hearing on Tuesday that it was then-Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan who ordered the police to investigate Oda TV, a case that led to the arrest of journalists Ahmet Şık and Nedim Şener in 2011.
During a hearing in a trial concerning the assassination of Turkish Armenian journalist Hrant Dink, Yılmazer raised the investigation into critical news portal Oda TV and claimed that Erdoğan instructed the police to get involved in the case.
Yılmazer expressed regret for following Erdoğan’s apparently unlawful instructions and blamed him for not standing by those instructions.
“I did not do any work on Nedim Şener or Ahmet Şık. I did not even tap any phones,” Yılmazer said in reference to the Oda TV investigation, claiming that it was famous prosecutor Zekeriya Öz who pursued the investigation into the journalists. Yılmazer asked the investigators why they did not go after the people in charge, in reaction to his imprisonment.
On Jan. 16, Yılmazer, who played a critical role in police intelligence units during the first two terms in office of then-Prime Minister Erdoğan, had said that it was Erdoğan himself who ordered investigations into two judicial cases known as Balyoz and Ergenekon, which are now called plots by the government.
The investigations, which dominated the domestic political agenda starting in 2008 and were aimed at holding the military bureaucracy accountable for unlawful actions as well as coup plots, had resulted in the trial of high-ranking generals amid complaints of irregularities and the unjust imprisonment of allegedly uninvolved people. Following the corruption investigations of 2013, in an effort to ally with the military and secularists, Erdoğan and his government called these investigations “plots” of the Gülen movement after the high court acquitted several convicts in the Balyoz and Ergenekon cases.
Yılmazer, who is accused of having links to the Gülen movement which is labeled a terrorist organization by the government, said during the hearing in İstanbul that even though the government calls those investigations “plots,” it was Erdoğan himself who gave the order to the bureaucrats to pursue them.
Yılmazer was jailed following corruption probes implicating the Erdoğan government and is accused of having committed a range of crimes, from illegal wiretapping to involvement in the murder of Dink in 2007.
Denying any negligence that resulted in Dink’s murder, Yılmazer said the authorities who were supposed to introduce better protection for Dink should be held accountable. Yılmazer was a unit chief in the intelligence department of the Ankara police force when Dink was assassinated by a teenager from Trabzon province.
Since the Gülen movement was accused collectively of having responsibility for controversial cases such as Erkenekon, Balyoz and Oda TV and the imprisonment of journalists due to the involvement of police chiefs and prosecutors who seemed close to the movement, some liberal sympathizers of the movement, mostly academics, criticized the support that the movement lent Yılmazer when he ran for office in the 2015 elections.