Journalist Ahmet Altan says AK Party committed graver crimes to gloss over corruption

Ahmet Altan, the former editor-in-chief of the Taraf daily, has said the ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party)ommitted graver crimes to gloss over corruption claims involving four government ministers. “Corruption is the traditional crime committed in this country.

Those four men would have stood trial, the country would have took [snap] elections and a new government would have been formed. [But] they committed graver crimes to gloss over this [co

Ahmet Altan, the former editor-in-chief of the Taraf daily, has said the ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party)ommitted graver crimes to gloss over corruption claims involving four government ministers.

andldquoCorruption is the traditional crime committed in this country. Those four men would have stood trial, the country would have took [snap] elections and a new government would have been formed.

[But] they committed graver crimes to gloss over this [corruption] crime,andrdquo Altan said in a rare television interview on Monday night.

Reminding of large amount of cash seized in the houses of suspects involved in the Dec.

17, 2013 corruption investigation as well as voice recordings that were the center of the graft scandal, Altan said the government chose andldquounlawfulnessandrdquo in the face of these claims. andldquoThey had to walk towards more unlawfulness, violence,andrdquo he said in the interview aired in Buganduumln TV.

The journalist also claimed that andldquothe AK Party will be soon overthrown.andrdquo

Fifty-three suspects, including the sons of three ministers, bureaucrats and prominent businessmen, had been detained in the Dec.

17 operation. This was followed by an operation on Dec.

25, when the Istanbul Chief Public Prosecutorand#39s Office ordered the detention of 30 suspects, including a number of figures and businessmen affiliated with the AK Party.

However, the Istanbul Police Department, which saw an extensive purge of its top officers following the first wave of the graft probe, did not comply with the order Among the main suspects of the Dec.

25 investigation was President Recep Tayyip ErdoIanand#39s son Bilal businessmen Mehmet Cengiz and Mustafa Latif TopbaI and Yasin al-Qadi, a Saudi businessman who is on the US Treasury Departmentand#39s andldquoSpecially Designated Global Terroristandrdquo list.

Since the Dec.

17 investigation was made public, President ErdoIan, who was prime minister at the time, has sought to discredit the prosecutors and police officers involved by accusing them of working to oust the AK Party from power Those prosecutors and police officers, along with tens of thousands of others, have been reassigned from their positions.

As a result of a series of steps by the government to cover up the investigation, the probe was formally closed on Dec.

16 after the Istanbul Chief Public Prosecutorand#39s Office announced that it had rejected appeals filed against an earlier decision to dismiss corruption and bribery charges against the 53 suspects.

During Mondayandrsquos interview, Altan also commented on recent arrest of Taraf journalist Mehmet Baransu who was recently arrested over documents he had submitted to prosecutors in 2010 prompting a major coup trial known as andquotSledgehammerandrdquo (Balyoz) that implicated military top brass.

The documents were published in the Taraf daily in the same year Altan, who was then the editor-in-chief of Taraf, said he does not regret having published these documents, reiterating his belief that Balyoz was a perfect coup plan. andldquoI would have published them a thousand times if I saw those documents a thousand times,andrdquo he said.

andldquoThe military knowns Balyoz was a coup plan. andhellip It was a coup plan.

They [the military] were going to kill people,andrdquo he said. Altan added that he plans to visit Baransu in prison, saying he is one of the most important journalists not only in Turkey but also in the world.

The infamous Sledgehammer case targeted top military officers and was opened based on documents published in the Taraf daily on Jan. 20, 2010.

Baransu gave a number of CDs purported to contain coup plans by military officials and their collaborators to a prosecutor in 2010. Baransu was recently arrested for having done this, in a development that has cast further doubt over the presence of freedom of expression in the country.

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SOURCE: Today’s Zaman