Aides leaked Balyoz coup plot to espionage ring

Royal Thai Army soldier armed with M16A2 stand...

Royal Thai Army soldier armed with M16A2 stands on the streets of Bangkok following the 2006 Thailand coup d’état. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Based on information included in the document, the indictment states that Doğan’s aides stole documents of the Sledgehammer coup plan from the retired colonel’s safe.


Aides-de-camp of retired Gen. Çetin Doğan, who was recently sentenced to prison on coup charges, stole documents from the Balyoz, or Sledgehammer, coup plot from the general and gave them to an espionage ring with members from inside the military, according to a document included in the indictment against the espionage group.

Doğan is the former commander of the 1st Army Corps.

The document was seized from the office of Bilgin Özkaynak, a businessman, who is identified as the leader of the espionage gang by the indictment during a police raid at his office last year. A prosecutor investigating the espionage gang included the document in an indictment he prepared against the gang. The indictment was accepted by the İzmir 12th High Criminal Court on Tuesday. The prosecutor seeks a life sentence for Özkaynak on accusations of establishing and running an illegal organization.

Based on information included in the document, the indictment states that Doğan’s aides stole documents of the Sledgehammer coup plan from the retired colonel’s safe and gave them to the espionage gang. It was not immediately clear when the aides stole and gave the coup documents to the espionage gang.

Özkaynak’s documents also feature a note about Doğan’s relationship with his aides. According to the note, Doğan treated his aides badly, often telling them, “You are all my dogs.”

Sledgehammer is a suspected coup plot believed to have been devised in 2003 with the aim of unseating the Justice and Development Party (AK Party) government through violent acts. According to the Sledgehammer plan, the military was to systematically foment chaos in society through acts of violence, among which were planned bomb attacks on the Fatih and Beyazıt mosques in İstanbul. The plot allegedly sought to undermine the government to lay the groundwork for a coup d’état. The military, which has overthrown three governments since 1960 and pressured a conservative government to step down in 1997, has denied the existence of such a plan.

There were 365 suspects, all retired or active duty members of the Turkish Armed Forces (TSK), in the Sledgehammer coup case. The İstanbul 10th High Criminal Court, which heard the case, initially handed down life sentences to Doğan, former Air Forces commander Gen. Halil İbrahim Fırtına and former Naval Forces commander Adm. Özden Örnek, but the court said the three would only serve 20-year prison sentences because they were unsuccessful in their bid to topple the government.

The court acquitted 34 suspects and handed down lengthy prison terms — between 13 to 16 years — to the remaining suspects.

The Sledgehammer documents were also found in the computer of Özkaynak, which were saved in a file as “Rapor Mart.xls” (Report March.xls). March most probably refers to March of 2003 when participants of a military seminar held at the General Staff‘s Selimiye barracks discussed and drafted the Sledgehammer coup plan.

Suspects claimed that Sledgehammer was a war game, not a coup plan, but the panel of judges found the claim unpersuasive as it is not a common practice in the military to use names of real individuals, which are used in the Sledgehammer coup plan, in war games.

The indictment against the espionage gang also states that Sledgehammer documents were also found in the computer of Hakan O., one of the suspected members of the gang. The document says: “He says the documents were taken from the safe of Çetin Doğan by his aides. He also says he was an active member of the West Study Group [BÇG].” However, it is unknown to whom the “he” refers to.

The West Study Group (BÇG), a clandestine group formed within the military in order to contribute to the staging of the Feb. 28, 1997 coup, categorized politicians, intellectuals, soldiers and bureaucrats in accordance with their religious and ideological backgrounds.


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