Retired colonel, defendant in MİT trucks case, detained in Ankara

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Burhanettin Cihangiroğlu

Retired Col. Burhanettin Cihangiroğlu, former head of the Gendarmerie’s criminal department and a defendant in a trial concerning the halting of National Intelligence Organization (MİT) trucks in 2014, was detained in Ankara on Friday.

Cihangiroğlu was reportedly taken into custody as part of an investigation into military officers who used landlines or pay telephones, which according to Turkish authorities is a sign of their membership in the Gülen movement.

The Gülen movement is accused by the Turkish government of masterminding a failed coup attempt in July 2016, although it strongly denies any involvement in it.

As part of the investigation conducted by the İstanbul Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office, Cihangiroğlu is accused of using landlines or pay telephones to communicate with followers of the movement around the time when the MİT trucks were stopped.

Prosecutors say Gülen followers in the military avoided using mobile phones for fear of being wiretapped.

In January 2014 a number of trucks that were found to belong to MİT were stopped by gendarmes in two separate incidents in the southern provinces of Hatay and Adana after prosecutors received tipoffs that they were carrying arms to Syria.

Although the Justice and Development Party (AKP) government claimed the trucks were transporting humanitarian aid to the Turkmen community in Syria, opposition voices questioned why, if the operation was within the law, the government intervened to prevent the trucks from being searched.

Four former prosecutors and a former gendarmerie officer were jailed when a court ordered their arrest due to their role in the search of the trucks after government figures, including President Erdoğan, accused them of “treason and espionage.”

Cihangiroğlu was arrested on Nov. 30, 2015 as part of the investigation into the halting of the MİT trucks. He was released pending trial on June 7, 2016.

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