Senior commanders in the case involving Syria-bound trucks sent by Turkey's National Intelligence Agency (MİT) were imprisoned early on Nov. 30, after a local court in Istanbul decided to arrest them.
Following the ruling, Ankara Gendarmerie Regional Commander Maj. Gen. İbrahim Aydın and Brig. Gen. Hamza Celepoğlu were taken to the Hadımköy Military Prison and Ret. Col. Burhanettin Cihangiroğlu was taken to Silivri Prison early on the morning of Nov. 30.
Celepoğlu is charged with “founding or directing an armed terrorist organization and attempting to overthrow the government of the Republic of Turkey or prevent it from doing its duties.”
Aydın and Cihangiroğlu, meanwhile, are charged with “getting information that must be kept secret in the interest of national security … serving the interests of a foreign country with the intention of spying on political and military affairs” and “founding or directing an armed terrorist organization and attempting to overthrow the government of the Republic of Turkey or prevent it from doing its duties.”
The case is part of an investigation into the alleged creation of a fake terrorist group called “Selam Tevhid,” in which U.S.-based Islamic scholar Fethullah Gülen, a friend-turned-foe of the Turkish government, is a suspect along with 121 others.
The subject of MİT's purported arms deliveries to Syria has been high on the agenda in the wake of Turkey's downing of a Russian jet on Nov. 24 and the arrest of two prominent journalists, daily Cumhuriyet Editor-in-Chief Can Dündar and Ankara Bureau Chief Erdem Gül, on Nov. 26. Dündar and Gül were charged with collecting and revealing secret documents for espionage and supporting an armed terrorist organization, based on reports published in Cumhuriyet regarding the Syria-bound MİT trucks.
In January 2014, trucks belonging to the MİT were stopped by a prosecutor who sought to have the gendarmerie search the vehicles in the southern province of Adana before they crossed into Syria. Claiming that the trucks were carrying “humanitarian aid to Turkmens” in the war-torn country, the Turkish government accused followers of Gülen in the judiciary and security institutions of illegally ordering the search.
In February 2014, a ban was imposed on the publication of reports about the search, and in April 2015 a court arrested 17 active soldiers who stopped the trucks.
There has long been speculation that the aid was actually being sent to jihadists in Syria.
Speaking on Nov. 28, President Tayyip Erdoğan again slammed the operations targeting the intelligence trucks, claiming that they were carrying humanitarian aid.
“By stopping the MİT trucks and inspecting them they announced the event to the world through espionage. Then they said, ‘These [trucks] are providing weapons to a terrorist organization.' They exposed the humanitarian assistance that was sent to the Bayırbucak Turkmens in this way. They exposed what was sent to the Free Syrian Army [FSA] in this way” Erdoğan said.