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Cablegate: Ankara Media Reaction Report

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UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 03 ANKARA 001283

SIPDIS

DEPARTMENT FOR INR/R/MR, EUR/SE, EUR/PD, NEA/PD, DRL
JCS PASS J-5/CDR S. WRIGHT

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: OPRC KMDR TU
SUBJECT: ANKARA MEDIA REACTION REPORT
WEDNESDAY, JULY 16, 2008

In Today's Papers

Erdogan-Baykal Duel of Words over 'Ergenekon' Investigation
All papers report Prime Minister Erdogan and the main opposition CHP
leader Deniz Baykal lashed out at each other during their party
group meetings in the parliament over the 'Ergenekon' investigation.
Baykal told his party group the prosecutor's case in the Ergenekon
probe appeared to be similar to an indictment which had been filed
by Prosecutor Ferhat Sarikaya on the Semdinli incident (in which, in
November 2005, two military officers were caught red-handed bombing
a bookstore in the town of Semdinli in the border province of
Hakkari in southeast Turkey). He claimed a "false atmosphere" was
created in the country before the indictment was unveiled. Baykal
also slammed the prosecutor for "shaping the charges after finding
some suspects." He also demanded evidence linking the Ergenekon
suspects -- retired generals, daily Cumhuriyet editors Ilhan Selcuk
and Mustafa Balbay, and Ankara Chamber of Commerce president Sinan
Aygun -- to the attack on the Council of State. "If there is no
evidence, you should step down at once," stressed Baykal. Baykal
said Erdogan was acting as a prosecutor in the Ergenekon lawsuit,
adding, he thus had to play the role of attorney. Erdogan, in
reply, told his party group yesterday, ""I'm glad Baykal calls me
the prosecutor of the case, because prosecutors are there for the
people. Our main concern is to defend the rights of people."
Erdogan added Turkish people were fully aware of which party was
standing in defense of the Ergenekon suspects and which against
them.

Meanwhile, papers also report the military prosecutor has rejected
press reports of a separate military investigation. The military
prosecutor said he had checked with Prosecutor Oz to see whether any
of the state's documents somehow fell under the jurisdiction of
military courts.

Turkish Papers' Coverage of Ongoing 'Ergenekon' Investigation
Islamist-oriented Yeni Safak claims 'Ergenekon' was allegedly
manipulating diverse groups, including far right, left, and
fundamentalist ones, and only the top leaders of the organization
were aware of the links between these groups. The paper claims
numerous documents on unresolved murders, such as the killing of
Professor Ahmet Taner Kislali and journalist Ugur Mumcu, have been
found within the framework of Ergenekon investigation. Mainstream
Milliyet reports the indictment charges the Ergenekon network with
plotting a coup against Bulent Ecevit's coalition government.
Islamist-oriented Zaman says Ergenekon might be involved in drug
trafficking to raise funds. On the other hand, Radikal, notes "the
financial sources of the Ergenekon network couldn't be found; it is
not clear how operations are conducted."

Editorial Commentary on Ergenekon Indictment

"About to Miss an Important Chance"
Mehmet Y. Yilmaz wrote in mainstream Hurriyet (7/16): "PM Erdogan
has started to defend the Ergenekon indictment and doesn't seem
bothered that people have begun to call him the 'Ergenekon
prosecutor.' In his opinion, he is defending the rights of the
people. Both the ruling party leader and the opposition leader seem
to have assumed odd stances as the former poses as the prosecutor
while the latter poses as the lawyer. This indictment includes some
very serious charges which can have a direct impact on the country's
future, and an extensive investigation as well as punishment, if
there is a crime, is very important. It will only harm such an
important case when politicians debate over this indictment. Such
efforts will only create mistrust and eventually damage the
credibility of Turkish judiciary. Already there are some who
believe that the Ergenekon case was an order from the government to
take revenge for the closure case. I am worried that given all of
these factors, we will miss the chance for rooting out the illegal
gangs within the state system."


ANKARA 00001283 002 OF 003


"The Opposition Leader Should not Rush to Comment"
Fehmi Koru wrote in Islamist-leaning Yeni Safak (7/16): "CHP leader
Baykal continues to act like a lawyer for the Ergenekon suspects.
The way he characterized the indictment and hinted that he does not
believe in the existence of an illegal organization shows his
lawyerly attitude. Even though the content of the indictment has
not yet been made public, stories in the press indicate it contains
some serious allegations related to Ergenekon, including some
unsolved assassinations and bomb attacks. We will have to wait for
the court's verdict. When Italy went through a similar judicial
process, many famous figures such as high ranking officers,
businessmen and parliamentarians were brought to trial. And when
all of this happened, Italians were also wondering if such important
and famous figures could possibly have been involved in criminal
acts. My advice is that CHP leader Baykal should be patient for the
end of the process and not risk his political credibility by rushing
to comment on before a verdict comes out."

US Consulate Attack
Milliyet, Radikal: Mainstream Milliyet reports that the Istanbul
Chief Prosecutor's office stated that no Al-Qaeda connection has
been found in the US Consulate attack investigation. Yesterday, two
more suspects were released. Milliyet also reports that one of the
suspects killed during the attack, Erkan Kargin, reportedly was
schizophrenic and had been treated for the illness for two years.
Liberal Radikal's headline on the issue reads "CIA Insists on
Al-Qaeda Connection." The paper notes that US intelligence met with
the Turkish intelligence the other day to find the Al-Qaeda
connection of the Consulate attackers. It was learned that some of
the members of the US delegation were CIA agents who had experience
with Guantanamo interrogations. Meanwhile, reportedly, many US
citizens sent messages to US Ambassador Ross Wilson asking how they
could help the families of the policemen martyred in the attack.

Abduction of Germans Show 'Leadership Fight' within PKK
Radikal, Cumhuriyet, Zaman and others report the cause of the
abduction of three German mountaineers in Mount Agri (Ararat) in
eastern Turkey appears to be an ongoing "leadership struggle" within
the PKK. Leftist-nationalist Cumhuriyet writes in "Dr. Bahoz
Kidnapped the German Mountaineers," that "the abduction was ordered
by the PKK's Syrian-heritage leader Fehman Hussein, known by the
codename 'Dr. Bahoz Erdal.'" PKK leader Murat Karayilan is furious
over the kidnapping since the most recent "PKK Congress" decided not
to take civilians as hostages, radio communications revealed. PKK
members have been recorded as saying in the radio communications,
"The Syrian overstepped the line" and "Dr. Bahoz signed the decree
for his own execution." They also expressed worry that Germany
would "not forgive this time." Meanwhile, mainstream Milliyet says
in "Germany Wiretaps PKK," that "the crisis management desk in
Germany analyzes the dialogue between the PKK members, and continues
its efforts for the release of the abducted Germans." Hussein and
Karayilan have long been at loggerheads over the control of the
group, and there have been several reports of assassination attempts
against each other. The PKK is planning to convene a congress soon,
and Hussein is prepared to use the German hostages as a bargaining
chip against those who want him expelled from the PKK, comment
papers.

TV News:
NTV

Domestic News

- The Turkish General Staff (TGS) says on its webpage from June
11-14, 22 PKK terrorists, including a senior PKK member, were killed
in operations in the Kato Mountains in Sirnak province.

- Labor unions KESK and BASK staged protests against insufficient
pay hikes offered by the government.


ANKARA 00001283 003 OF 003


- Sale of assets to foreigners resumes following the publication of
the related constitutional reforms in the Official Gazette.

International News

- Two Turkish civil engineers, Gokhan Gul and Erhan Gunduz, have
been abducted by gunmen in Herad west of Afghanistan.

- The United Nations began withdrawing non-essential staff from the
Sudanese region of Darfur.

- The first footage showing an interrogation at Guantanamo Bay is
released by the lawyers of Omar Khadr, a Canadian teenager detained
in 2002 by US forces.

WILSON

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
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