Turkish Maj. Gen. flees to Russia to avoid arrest

PanARMENIAN.Net - Istanbul court issued an arrest warrant in August as part of a probe regarding the establishment of several websites that allegedly ran propaganda campaigns against civilian groups

Maj. Gen. Mustafa Bakici, for whom an Istanbul court issued an arrest warrant in August as part of a probe regarding the establishment of several websites that allegedly ran propaganda campaigns against civilian groups on behalf of the Turkish Armed Forces (TSK), has fled to Russia to evade arrest, Turkish media reported on Friday, Nov 18.

Bakici, who was the commander of the 23rd Border Division Command, was assigned to a desk job at the Land Forces Command’s inspection department during this year’s Supreme Military Council (YAS) due to his suspected involvement in the anti-government website campaign. He was among the 14 suspects for whom the Istanbul 13th High Criminal Court issued arrest warrants as part of the investigation on Aug. 8 after an indictment prepared by the prosecutor overseeing the case was accepted by the court.

After an appeal he filed against the arrest warrant was rejected, he was hospitalized at the Gulhane Military Academy of Medicine (GATA) shortly after the arrest warrant was issued and had recently been released from GATA. He began his new position at the Land Forces Command but submitted a petition for one month of leave that was approved by his superiors. The general’s whereabouts have been unknown since then.

Bakici, who refused to turn himself in to prosecutors, reportedly submitted a petition to the Land Forces Command via his wife and requested retirement. Although the General Staff’s legal department opposed his retirement on the grounds that the general should have been handed over to civilian prosecutors and that approving his retirement would be illegal, his petition for retirement was approved in the end and he retired on Sept. 20.

After Bakici’s family said they didn’t know where he was, police informed border gates and airports of the situation and discovered that Bakici had left the country and fled to Russia through northern Iraq. He was also discovered to have withdrawn all the money from his bank accounts, which some reports say amounted to TL 300,000, before his escape.

Bakici is among the key suspects in the ongoing investigation into the alleged anti-government websites. The investigation into the propaganda websites began in 2010 based on evidence found in the home of retired Col. Hasan Ataman Yildirim, another suspect in the website case. Later, an anonymous tipster from inside the military sent an email to inform the public and the prosecutors that the General Staff had established 42 websites for the sole purpose of disseminating propaganda about the government and religious communities.

There are a total of 22 suspects in the propaganda website case who are being accused of attempting to overthrow the government and of leading and being a member of an armed terror organization. They are also accused of categorizing military officers according to their religious or political beliefs, possibly for future reference. Fourteen officers on active duty, four retired military officers and a public servant have been accused in the indictment.

The content of the websites indicates that they were used as part of the Action Plan to Fight Reactionaryism allegedly drafted by Col. Dursun Cicek. Cicek’s suspected plan of action details a military plan to destroy the image of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party) and the faith-based Gulen movement in the eyes of the public, play down the Ergenekon investigation and gather support for members of the military arrested as part of the investigation into Ergenekon, a clandestine organization nested within the state and bureaucracy accused of plotting to overthrow the government, Today’s Zaman reported.

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