One of the convicted officers who took part in illegal military plans to create conditions ripe for martial law by organizing provocative, violent actions in Turkey in the early years of then-Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s term in office has started to work for a drone manufacturer owned by Erdoğan’s son-in-law.
Hüseyin Topuz, now a retired colonel, was arrested in 2010 as part of investigations into a coup plan called Sledgehammer. According to Sledgehammer, a Turkish fighter jet would be downed by the Turkish Air Force as if it had been shot down by Greece over the Aegean Sea, and several bombings at two historic mosques in Istanbul would be carried out by teams of officers. It was projected that martial law would be declared and that the military would take over the administration, claiming that the Erdoğan government was incapable of preventing violence. During the Sledgehammer investigation, 365 officers including senior generals were put on trial, and 300 of them were sentenced. Gen. Çetin Doğan, who was accused of being the leader of the putschists, admitted that he had led a military seminar in which various scenarios were discussed, denying that it was a coup plan.
“Beard” (Sakal) action plan written by Hüseyin Topuz:çarşaf eylem planı (1)
The bomb attacks were code-named “Çarşaf” (Black Chador) and “Sakal” (Beard) and were to be launched on a Friday shortly after prayers. A nine-member squad under the command of then-captain Topuz was to plant a remote-controlled bomb in a shoe cabinet at Fatih Mosque before leaving the building. The bomb would be detonated seconds after the completion of Friday prayers. A number of provocateurs would help increase the chaotic atmosphere inside the mosque. At Beyazıt Mosque, a similar bomb would be placed in the garden by a team of gendarmerie officers, led by a major. The bomb would be detonated around 10 minutes before the call to Friday prayer. Provocateurs were again to appear on the scene, this time urging the agitated crowd to hold violent rallies across the city.
Hüseyin Topuz was the team leader of officers who were to take part in the mosque bombing:ek-c-gc3b6revlendirme-c3a7izelgesi (1)
In his 2016 personnel file classified by Turkish General Staff, Topuz is claimed to have been affiliated with an illegal organization that aimed to infiltrate the Turkish Army:huseyin_topuz (1)
Documents obtained by Nordic Monitor confirm that Topuz was the team leader who was involved in both allegedly planned mosque bombings. Moreover, many confidential documents prepared by Topuz appeared during the Sledgehammer trials. In 2012 Topuz was sentenced to 16 years in prison, and his sentence was upheld by the Supreme Court of Appeals. In 2014 the Constitutional Court annulled the convictions, stating that the defendants did not receive a fair trial, leading to the release of all defendants from prison. In a retrial held in 2015, all the Sledgehammer defendants were acquitted. According to the political experts, the acquittals were attributed to cooperation between the anti-Western military establishment, which was powerful at the time, and the Erdoğan government, which was under pressure due to corruption investigations in 2013. It is often argued that the Erdoğan government and the ultranationalist officers reached a tacit agreement to eliminate the Gülen movement, whose members in the bureaucracy are presented as the actors who exposed the coup plans and conducted the major corruption investigations.
Returning to the army after his acquittal, Topuz was promoted to colonel. According to information confirmed by Nordic Monitor, Topuz mostly focused on profiling officers affiliated with the Gülen movement and conveyed these lists to Gen. Abdullah Atay, the gendarmerie commander of the time.
Topuz was forced to retire in 2018 along with the other officers who were tried in the Sledgehammer case. Eurasian circles who promote the idea of Turkey, Russia and Iran becoming allied powers along with China against the West reacted strongly to the retirement of Topuz and his colleagues, accusing the government of ingratitude despite their support during a controversial coup attempt in 2016.
It seems that Erdoğan showed loyalty to Topuz after his retirement. Erdoğan’s son-in-law Selçuk Bayraktar hired him as a field coordinator at Baykar, the family company that produces drones used by the Turkish military.
Topuz recently lectured to officers at Turkey’s National Defense University, which was established following the closure of military academies in 2016, along with his new boss Selçuk Bayraktar.