A former member of the pro-government Turkey Youth Foundation (TÜGVA) revealed the foundation’s links to Turkey’s National Intelligence Organization (MİT) and the Security General Directorate in a written defense in court last year, the Birgün daily reported over the weekend.
Bilal Erdoğan, the son of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, sits on the foundation’s advisory board.
Ramazan Aydoğdu, a senior-level executive at TÜGVA who had been in pretrial detention between October 2021 and May 2022, was sentenced to two years in prison on charges of unlawfully accessing the documents belonging to TÜGVA and manipulating and modifying the documents before sending them to a journalist.
The journalist had claimed, citing the documents, that some executives and members of the foundation were appointed to posts in the Turkish military, police force and judiciary in what appeared to be favoritism.
According to Birgün, Aydoğdu also claimed in his written defense to the İstanbul 22nd Criminal Court of First Instance that TÜGVA has close relations with MİT and the Turkish police force and had them trace some individuals and obtain their personal information.
Presenting to the court as evidence an information note sent on WhatsApp and an e-mail by former TÜGVA executives, Aydoğdu claimed that he had been tracked by intelligence for a long time and that the foundation also conducted research on some social media users, obtaining their IP address, work addresses and phone numbers.
He further stated that three days before he was detained in 2021 he had learned from individuals working at TÜGVA and those close to them that he was being followed and his phones were being wiretapped by the police.
Aydoğdu was also recently threatened with a bullet left inside his shoe.
Erdoğan’s Justice and Development Party (AKP) government has long been the target of criticism for engaging in favoritism and filling state posts with its cronies.
Critics say AKP nepotism reached new heights following a failed coup in July 2016 after which the government removed more than 130,000 civil servants from their jobs under the pretext of an anti-coup fight.