The front company that owns private aircraft operated by Turkey’s spy agency, MIT (Milli İstihbarat Teşkilatı), on secret missions abroad has been identified in a Nordic Monitor investigation.
An Ankara-based aviation company called Mavi Başkent Havacılık Turizm Ticaret ve Sanayi A.Ş. operates two Bombardier Challengers with tail numbers TT4010 and TCKLE as well as a Sikorsky S-76C helicopter. The aircraft were used in secret rendition flights from abroad, with Turkish intelligence orchestrating the abduction of opponents and critics of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.
The Challenger TT4010 was exposed in Mongolia in July 2018 when MIT’s botched operation to kidnap a teacher affiliated with the Gülen movement, a group critical of Turkish President Erdoğan, was revealed by the local media. TV networks aired live footage of the aircraft waiting on the tarmac as the country’s political establishment including the opposition were successfully mobilized to thwart the attempt.
Members of the board of directors at the MIT front company were listed in the trade registry:MIT_Aviation_firm_26June2020
The other aircraft with tail number TC-KLE was used in March 2018 in the abduction of six Turkish citizens in the Kosovar capital of Pristina. The abduction sparked an outcry in Kosovo, rattling the political establishment.
After the scandals, MIT changed the name of the front aviation company, on January 17, 2019, to Mavi Başkent from its original name of Birleşik İnşaat Turizm Ticaret ve Sanayi A.Ş., listed as a construction, tourism and trade firm on paper.
Registration data that show MIT changed the name of the front company:MIT_Aviation_firm_22January2019_namechange
Its location was changed on December 23, 2019 to an office address in Çankaya (Meşrutiyet Mahallesi Meşrutiyet Cad. Menderes İş Hanı Apt. No: 9/5) from an office in Yenimahalle (Gayret Mahallesi, Ivedik Caddesi Ahmet Hamdi Sokak No:61), where it was originally located on the compound of MIT headquarters.
Location of the company that moved off the MIT compound in December 2019:MIT_Aviation_firm_23December2019
The registration records filed on June 26, 2020 show that the Mavi Başkent company is owned by a foundation called MİPVAK (Milli İstihbarat Teşkilatı Personeli Sosyal ve Güvenlik Ve Dayanışma Vakfı), an outfit that was set up by the government to support MIT agents. Both MİPVAK and Mavi Başkent are located at the same address in the Turkish capital.
The foundation is currently represented on the board by a woman named Ayşe Çiğdem Ekinci (Turkish National ID number 12295055672), who is chairwoman of the board of directors. İhsan Sezer Gökgöz (Turkish National ID number 17965023272) and Necati Baykal (Turkish National ID number 11123401834) are listed as board members.
The company’s bylaws were listed in the trade registry data published in June 2013:MIT_Aviation_firm_20June2013_directives
Board meeting records from June 2013 show that MİPVAK had a majority stake in the company with holdings of 2,038,660 shares. Other shareholders seen as symbolic included Gökgöz, with only 37 shares, and Baykal with 25, confirming that MIT had real sway over the company. It was also decided at a meeting that former board members Oğuz Burçin Kişmir, Hüsnü Medih Aksoy and Vedat Durmaz should turn over their shares and leave the company. Until June 2016 MİPVAK was represented by Fuat Erden (Turkish National ID number 31480309918), who also assumed the position of chairman of the board at the aviation company.
Fuat Erden was the former chairman of the MIT front company:MIT_Aviation_firm_28June2016_fuat_erden
The spy agency’s front firm was first established on July 1, 1993 with capital of 5 billion Turkish lira by founding members listed as MİPVAK and MIT agents Ertuğrul Güven, Erkan Ersil, Aytuğ Gül, Osman Nuri Gündeş, Ş.Muammer Över, Ö. Fahri Öner and Nurdoğan Kılıç. Güven served as MIT deputy undersecretary, while Ersil was head of personnel at the agency.
Company records at its establishment in 1993:MIT_Aviation_firm_July1993_establishment
Gündeş was a senior MIT agent who ran operations as Istanbul regional director. He passed away in 2015. Gündeş was also implicated in some illegal activities with infamous mafia leaders Dündar Kılıç and Abdullah Çatlı. He was a suspect in a criminal investigation into a neo-nationalist group in 2009 and questioned by prosecutors for his alleged involvement in high-profile assassination plots. Former MIT counterterrorism unit head Mehmet Eymür criticized Gündeş, arguing that he was responsible for a deterioration within MİT due to his links to shady organizations.
The scope of the business activities listed in the MIT foundation charter is very broad, ranging from construction, oil trade, tourism, advertising, arms, industrial goods and insurance to real estate, drugs, chemicals and the purchase of vehicles, aircraft and ships. The company is authorized to conduct business both in Turkey and abroad.
The MIT front company took over two other firms in December 2012:MIT_Aviation_firm_December2012_takeover
On November 28, 2012 the company purchased a security company called Güvsan Güvenlik Teknolojileri İmalat Pazarlama Montaj İnşaat Reklam Sanayi ve Ticaret Ltd. Şti. as well as tourism firm Şansal Turizm ve Ticaret Ltd. Şti.
According to Turkey’s General Directorate of Civil Aviation, part of the Transportation Ministry, Mavi Başkent holds general aviation license number TR-GH-59, which was originally held by its predecessor Birleşik. No phone number is listed for the company in the registration records.
The license listed for the MIT company with Turkey’s civil aviation authority:MIT_Aviation_firm_Mavi_Baskent_license