Hüseyin Gülerce, who was Fethullah Gülen’s right-hand man in the Gülen Brotherhood for 35 years and is nowadays a pro-regime columnist, was described in the reasoned decision in the Tahşiye trial as being an organisation member into whom an investigation was ongoing. Gülerce’s comments which were incorporated into the Cumhuriyet indictment have been cited as grounds for the detention of our columnists and managers for fourteen months.
The reasoned decision in the trial into the Tahşiye organisation has been announced. The defendants in the trial, including police intelligence officers and Chair of the Samanyolu Publishing Group Hidayet Karaca, were sentenced to imprisonment charged with conspiring against persons who were under investigation for allegedly being Al-Qaeda sympathisers. In the reasoned decision that Istanbul Serious Crime Court No 14 has drafted in the past few days, Hüseyin Gülerce, one of the witnesses in the investigation targeting our newspaper’s editorial policy, was stated to have been included in “FETO’s press leg.”
Organisation’s press leg
It is stated in the decision that the organisation leader, Fethullah Gülen, singled out Mehmet Doğan and his group in the form of a warning that radical religious groups may turn to terrorism in a speech of his in April 2009. It is indicated that, following the speech, there was an investigation into intelligence units’ claim that these people were Al-Qaeda sympathisers. It is stated that at this time instructions were given using “subliminal” means to organisation members on the programme named “Single Turkey” broadcast at the time on Samanyolu and the “organisation’s press leg” of which Gülerce was part moved into action.
It is indicated that Gülerce, who at that time was a columnist on Zaman newspaper, made reference in his article of 10 April 2009 to Gülen’s speech in which he singled them out and warned that certain groups may turn to terrorism and for caution to be exercised over this. The existence was additionally noted of an investigation into Gülerce that had been separated. As to the outcome of the investigation, no information was given.
Accusations included in the indictment
Gülerce, who had been in the Gülen brotherhood for 35 years before the AKP-Brotherhood rupture, said with reference to the Fethullahist structure in a publication to which he contributed following the 17-25 December operations, branded by the government as a coup attempt, “Nobody apart from God can bring this community to an end.” Gülerce, who from this stage on passed to Star newspaper and became a pro-regime columnist, gave testimony as a witness in the Cumhuriyet investigation despite having witnessed absolutely nothing. The prosecutors were guided by Gülerce’s statements and included the accusations in the indictment. Gülerce said in his statement that the brotherhood had sent money to our newspaper and may have used a “courier” to this end. Our transport service employee Yavuz Yakışkan, into whom an investigation was subsequently launched, was arrested on a groundless charge. Yakışkan, who was accused of having had a phone conversation with a FETO “prayer leader”, was released when it emerged from lawyers’ research that there was a similar sounding name. Gülerce’s statements that Gülen appointed our newspaper’s editor-in-chief and influenced the headlines we ran are included verbatim in the indictment as charges by the prosecution.
Presiding judge of Istanbul Serious Crime Court No 27, which is hearing the trial against our columnists and managers, said on the second day of the trial on 24 July 2017 with reference to the witnesses Gülerce, Latif Erdoğan and Cem Küçük in the file, “We will call a portion of the witnesses. Of course, not those like Gülerce. Statements having the nature outside gossip have no legal merit.” On the other hand, our newspaper’s editor-in-chief Murat Sabuncu, executive board chair Akın Atalay and our reporter Ahmet Şık continue to be held in detention pending trial on the indictment based on this testimony.
Hüseyin Gülerce - organisation member in Tahşiye case and witness against Cumhuriyet