Turkish Military Denies Plot Against Deputy Prime Minister

ANKARA (Hurriyet)–The office of the chief of General Staff has denied allegations that two military officers were plotting against Deputy Prime Minister Bulent Arinc.

It said the officers were following another military officer who was allegedly leaking confidential data and whose house was close to the deputy prime minister’s.

“The privacy and confidentiality of investigation is a basic rule of law. Regretfully, recent developments have shown that this principle is no longer regarded in our country,” the military said in a written statement late Wednesday.

The statement came hours after Arinc said he would take the issue to the next National Security Council (MGK) meeting.

According to reports, two officers were detained late Saturday close to Arinc’s house in Ankara on the grounds that they were tracking the deputy prime minister. Some media outlets alleged that the officers were planning to assassinate Arinc.

The officers were released after a detention of several hours, but the investigation is still ongoing.

Arinc, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and government spokesman Cemil Cicek all described the situation as very disturbing and grave.

“There is a difference between the reports giving all details related to the incident and the reports consisting of some details and comments,” the statement said in what was seen as a hint that media reports had twisted the incident.

The Turkish Armed Forces had been forced to make a public statement as a result of the mounting comments, the statement read.

“According to police records, no equipment used for wiretapping was found,” the statement said. “Police, in the presence of the public prosecutor, searched the houses of both officers until 4:30 a.m. The police record clarifies that no evidence was found, but that their computers and electronic data equipment were seized for further investigation.”

Emphasizing the fact that the two officers were released by the prosecutor, the military said, “These military officers were in charge of investigating another officer who resides in the same neighborhood and who is suspected of leaking information.”

In a statement made before the army issued its release, Arinc said, “I have yet to contact [Chief of General Staff Gen. Ilker Basbug], yet the MGK meeting is upcoming.”

The MGK will convene Dec. 28 at the presidential palace with military commanders and Cabinet members in attendance. The alleged plot was also discussed at a Cabinet meeting Monday.

In an interview with daily Star, Arinc said, “The policemen jumped on the colonel when he was about to swallow a piece of paper that included my address.” This detail did not appear in the police reports.

 

According to Arinc, the incident unfolded thusly: “The counter-terrorism unit received a call. Two suspected cars – one belonging to the military and the other from a rental-car company – were seen at the scene. Two military officers were seized in a police operation Saturday night.”

“I held talks with the prime minister, the interior minister and the police chief and his deputy in charge of counter-terrorism when I got back to Ankara,” said Arinc, who heard reports of the assassination attempt during his visit to Manisa. “I learned all the details by inspecting documents and watching security-camera records.”

Main opposition leader Deniz Baykal accused the government of promoting false stories in order to increase its popularity.

“It is difficult to believe two members of the special forces would fail to memorize an address where they are allegedly plotting an assassination,” Baykal said. “[Italian Prime Minister Silvio] Berlusconi was attacked and his popularity increased.”

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