Emin Gürses, an operative of a neo-nationalist group known as the Ulusalcı who threatened to blow up the US and Israeli embassies in Ankara, was acquitted on July 1, 2019 after the intervention into the case of the Islamist government of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
Nordic Monitor has obtained wiretap recordings of Gürses, who was under surveillance as part of an investigation into a clandestine group known as Ergenekon, which was nested in the security branches of the government and was responsible for murders, attacks and politically motivated plots in Turkey. The crimes of Gürses and his associates were whitewashed by the Supreme Court of Appeals, which is under the control of the government.
In the recording intercepted on January 23, 2008 at 5:49 p.m., Gürses sounded concerned that new leads in the investigation could expose him and that he might very well end up in detention like his comrades. “Screw them [police] regardless of whether they take me in or not. Our guys will do everything in their power to blow up the US and Israeli embassies if I am put in prison,” Gürses told Erman Dur on the phone.
The wiretap was obtained after a warrant was issued by the Istanbul 12th High Criminal Court under decision No. 2008/196. It was submitted to the court by prosecutors as part of the evidentiary file against Gürses.
Gürses was detained by police on February 26, 2008. During the interrogation the police asked Gürses what he meant in the wiretap and who “our guys” were, to which Gürses answered: “I may have said the US and Israel if we had talked about the agenda and their roles in it. There is no one who could be labeled as ‘our guys’.” He tried to downplay the conversation and declined to name the people who he said would blow up the embassies.
In a July 2008 attack on the US Consulate General in Istanbul believed to have been inspired by al-Qaeda, four gunmen stormed a guard post outside the consulate building in Istinye, sparking a deadly shootout. Three assailants identified as Erhan Kargin, Bülent Çınar and Raif Topcil were killed in the assault. Three police officers were slain as well. Kargın, the suspected mastermind of the attack, had returned from Afghanistan to Turkey in 2007 and was frequently visited by unidentified parties before carrying out the attack.
The police looked into possible links between the attack and the Ergenekon network. Kargın’s phone records showed that he had been in contact with some suspects in the Ergenekon case and was linked to a neo-nationalist association called Kuvayı Milliye 1919 Derneği, which was identified during the investigation as an organization that had tried to plant operatives posing as Islamist figures within the religious İsmailağa community located in Istanbul’s conservative Fatih district.
The investigators also found that Ergenekon had been trying to woo Islamist groups and that some operatives met with known al-Qaeda figures in a bid to enlist their help. Salih Mirzabeyoğlu, the late leader of radical Islamist terrorist organization the Islamic Great East Raiders/Front (IBDA/C), a Turkish al-Qaeda group, and IBDA/C member Saadettin Ustaosmanoğlu, who were sentenced to nine years on charges of membership in the group, testified that a neo-nationalist organization came to visit them expressing their desire to cooperate on certain matters. Ustaosmanoğlu testified that a retired major explained during their meeting that they would organize groups similar to the National Force units of the Turkish War of Independence, staging mass demonstrations, spreading propaganda and using various other forms of manipulation to take control of the streets.
In a conversation with another indicted suspect, Lt. Col. Mustafa Dönmez, Gürses said, “The murder of Hrant Dink has been a good kind of warning,” in reference to a Turkish-Armenian journalist who was assassinated by a nationalist figure. The hit was believed to have been planned within the security apparatus of the Turkish government.
Gürses was released pending trial in January 2010. In August 2013 he was convicted and sentenced to 12 years in prison by the Istanbul 13th High Criminal Court. The verdict was overturned when the Erdoğan government intervened in the case, letting all the suspects go despite a large amount of incriminating evidence against them.
Gürses, an academic-turned-operative, is known for his staunchly anti-American views. He regularly appears on Ulusal TV, a mouthpiece of a Doğu Perinçek-led neo-nationalist group.
Another wiretap dated January 29, 2008 shows Gürses talking to Metin Külünk,an Erdoğan confidante and Islamist figure who led the armed wing of the Raiders in the 1980s and has set up Islamist operations in Europe on Erdoğan’s behalf in recent years. Gürses advises Külünk on how Erdoğan should proceed. At one point, he mentions Abdurrahman Dilipak, with whom he had previously spoken. According to Gürses, Dilipak, an Islamist writer who advises Erdoğan, told him on the phone how he has been working for the Turkish intelligence agency and reports what he gathers to authorities.
The 34-page secret transcript of Emin Gürses wiretaps is posted below. (Use the arrow keys to move pages.)