An opposition party mayor in western Turkey is facing an investigation for employing a former judge who was fired in the aftermath of a failed coup in Turkey at a company owned by the municipality, a journalist has claimed.
Journalist İsmail Saymaz from the anti-government Halk Tv wrote in a column on Monday that the Interior Ministry in October 2020 allowed prosecutors to launch an investigation into Ünal Çetin from the İYİ (Good) Party. Çetin is the mayor of Gökçeada, an island in Çanakkale province in western Turkey.
Çetin is under investigation for the September 2019 hiring of former judge N.G., who was one of the more than 130,000 civil servants who were fired from public service under a state of emergency declared following the coup attempt on July 15, 2016 on the pretext of an anti-coup fight. N.G.’s job at the municipality’s GÖK-AŞ company was to deal with the files of the municipality’s judicial cases.
Arrested two days after the coup attempt, N.G. was dismissed from her job in August 2016 and was put in pre-trial detention for nine months. She stood trial on charges of terrorist organization membership due to her alleged links to the Gülen movement but was acquitted of the charges in February 2019. A court has even ruled that the government pay her pecuniary and non-pecuniary damages as she was unjustly charged and subjected to judicial supervision.
The Turkish government accuses the Gülen movement of masterminding the coup attempt and labels it a “terrorist organization,” although the movement strongly denies involvement in the coup attempt or any terrorist activity.
Mayor Çetin said despite the judicial proceedings proving the former judge’s innocence, he was told to fire her from the municipality.
Çetin said he is accused of employing N.G. based solely on her criminal record and not after a thorough security check, which would have revealed that she was a purged judge. He said he refuses to fire the woman despite pressure from the government.
“I was told to fire her even though she was acquitted in court. I am supposed to fire this woman to save my position. This would be an act of total dishonesty. What I care about most is that this country be a state of law. Who are we supposed to trust if not the judiciary?” the mayor told Saymaz.
The Turkish government launched a massive crackdown on the Gülen movement’s alleged and real followers following the coup attempt.
A total of 319,587 people have been detained and 99,962 arrested in operations against supporters of the Gülen movement since the coup attempt, Turkey’s Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu announced in November.
Former public servants were not only fired from their jobs, they were also prohibited from working again in the public sector and getting a passport. The government also made it difficult for them to work formally in the private sector. Notes were put on the social security database about dismissed public servants to deter potential employers.
In addition to the thousands who lost their jobs and were jailed, scores of other Gülen movement followers had to flee Turkey to avoid the government crackdown.