Turkey’s top diplomats have leaked classified information and reports to an organized crime gang operating in a number of cities in Turkey, secret profiling lists created by gang members have revealed.
Members of the gang were accused of blackmail and illegally obtaining confidential government and military documents. They reportedly used honey traps with the help of escort women, including some foreign nationals, offered cash or employed methods used in espionage to obtain classified information from high-ranking officers and senior bureaucrats. The group then either sold or planned to sell these sensitive documents.
According to the group’s secret documents obtained by Nordic Monitor, Turkish diplomats, some of whom currently serve as ambassadors in foreign capitals, provided top-secret diplomatic reports and sensitive information to the criminals, and the sexual encounters of government officials were recorded to ensure a continuation of the leaks. In addition to family secrets, information on their weaknesses, characteristics and professional networks, and comments by other diplomats on their private lives were listed by the gang in order to threaten those people.
An investigation by the İzmir Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office, launched in 2011, exposed members of the network, their criminal activities and Turkish military, police and intelligence officers with illegal links to the gang. Diplomats who engaged with the group were also indicted by the chief prosecutor. Today, most of the foreign ministry staff described in these lists continue representing Turkey abroad.
The gang members claimed that Turkish diplomat Tanju Bilgiç supplied five or six highly classified documents on Cyprus to them and characterized Bilgiç as a divorced man who was “fed up with women and in need of close attention.” Bilgiç is currently Turkey’s ambassador to Serbia. Prior to assuming his position in Belgrad, he served as foreign ministry spokesman from 2014 to 2016 and head of the Cyprus-Greece desk between 2008 and 2011. When the prosecutor began a criminal inquiry into those allegations, he was coordinating Turkey-Greece relations and had full access to confidential correspondence.
Turkish Ambassador to Libya Serhat Aksen handed over a Bozcaada Greek Orthodox Church Foundation document to the gang. A document submitted by the Greek Orthodox minority foundation to the foreign ministry was leaked to the group, which had ultra-nationalist sentiments. “He is so kind. His wife, Meltem, is legal counsellor of the foreign ministry. According to Kudret Oytan, his wife is a former girlfriend of Ambassador Metin Hüsrev Ünler,” the note said.
Before his tenure in Tripoli, Aksen led the North America desk from 2008 to 2011 and was assigned to Karlsruhe as consul general in 2012.
The list of government officials, created by Aylin Muslu, who was arrested in 2011 due to her role as an escort for the network, included personnel from various ministries. Turkish Ambassador to Kosovo Çağrı Sakar leaked the draft of then-Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu’s talking points to be used in his meeting with the Jordanian foreign minister on the sidelines of the 66th UN General Assembly held in September 2011. “He is sensitive and need of close attention,” the note said. Ambassador Sakar was working as diplomatic advisor to the Turkish Parliament in 2011.
The note on Belma Kılınçarslan, an officer at the Turkish Employment Agency, demonstrates the aim and illegal activities of the gang: “She brings special customers [officials] from the employment agency and is in contact with high-level officers. I’ll record [the sexual encounters of] all the people introduced by her. Recep Önal, Feridun Giresun and Nusret Bastas were recorded. Then they’ll do anything [we want]. She makes high-level officials become involved [in the network], helps in recording and photographing and is more hardworking than I am.”
According to the documents Kudret Oytan, currently consul general in the city of Mostar in Bosnia and Herzegovina, supplied the official e-mail addresses of the foreign ministry, and the gang believed he had significant information on the private lives of Turkish diplomatic staff. As seen in the notes on Ambassador Aksen, Oytan had already shared some details with the gang. Oytan is still serving as consul general in Mostar.
A list prepared by Yeliz Ozmen, an escort women, also put forward numerous diplomatic leaks and sensitive information about the suspects in the Izmir prosecutor’s case. The gang obtained contact details of diplomatic representatives in Ankara from Ambassador Aylin Taşhan, then deputy director general of protocol. Furthermore, Güçlü Kalafat handed over classified information on the foreign visits of the Turkish president, prime minister and foreign affairs minister. “He prefers long stays. Fond of Moldovan ladies… Aggressive, alcoholic and has knowledge of brothels,” Ozmen noted.
Turkish Ambassador to Mali Murat Mustafa Onart provided two installation CDs for the foreign ministry’s data system, the note claimed. If that’s true, the gang may have accessed all classified information kept in its data system via these CDs.
The indictment drafted by the chief public prosecutor was accepted by a high criminal court in İzmir in 2011. In accordance with the investigation, suspected members of the gang were detained. The detainees reportedly held high-profile positions in the defense ministry, the land and naval forces and other military agencies. Based in Izmir, the gang had branches in a number of provinces, including Istanbul, Ankara, Bursa, Antalya, Mugla, Manisa, Zonguldak and Ordu.
However, the judges, prosecutors and security officers involved in that case were arrested in 2016, and the judicial process was not concluded.
The lists created by the gang are as follows:list1a