FETO Murders

Journalist Hrant Dink

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Hrant Dink, a journalist and Turkish citizen of Armenian origin, was assassinated outside his office on 19 January 2007. The founding editor of Agos, a political weekly published by members of Turkey’s Armenian minority, Dink was a well-known public figure. At the time of the murder, it was claimed that Dink was targeted as a result of his work on behalf of the Armenian community by Ogun Samast, a 17-year-old Turkish nationalist. The public was shocked when a video emerged of Samast receiving a hero’s welcome in the police station after his arrest. It later emerged that the video was leaked by FETO-aligned officers themselves in an attempt to blame the state for the murder. 

Allegations have been raised that the prosecutors who led the investigation into Dink’s murder are aligned with FETO. Prosecutors made little progress on the case, delaying proceedings by transferring the case between different judicial authorities. Of those who led the investigation: Selim Berna Altay was tried in 2010 for misuse of his office and hiding of evidence, Fikret Secen was also banned from practicing law due to allegations of professional misconduct and of destroying and hiding evidence, and Muammer Akkas was dismissed from duty for gross misconduct in 2013 after working with former Ergenekon prosecutor Zekeriya Oz to overthrow the democratically elected government through an alleged corruption investigation.

It has further been claimed that soldiers aligned with the FETO network were involved directly in the assassination. It has been established that Gendarmerie officer Muharrem Demirkale, dismissed from the army after the 15 July coup attempt, was monitoring Dink on the day of his assassination. Additionally, Brigadier General Hamza Celepoglu, who is currently imprisoned for his role in a FETO-led conspiracy that sought to show that Turkey was arming al-Qaeda in Syria, has also been questioned about the Hrank Dink assassination.

Allegations have likewise surfaced that senior police chiefs who are on trial for FETO-related activity were involved in the murder. Ali Fuat Yilmazer, one of the critical names in the Ergenekon case, was the head of intelligence at Istanbul police during the assassination. Ramazan Akyurek, a former senior police officer in Trabzon, is accused of concealing vital intelligence that could have saved Dink’s life. It has been claimed that Akyurek received almost 20 notifications that Dink was being targeted, yet he chose not to act. Both Yilmazer and Akyurek have been on trial since December 2015 on the charges of ‘establishing an armed organisation’ and ‘neglect of duty’.

In December 2015, an indictment linked to the 2007 murder called for the prosecution of 26 people on charges of “establishing an armed organization” and “neglecting their duties”. The indictment, which had been rejected twice before due to an apparent lack of information, called for life sentences be handed down to Ramazan Akyurek, a former head of Turkey’s police intelligence, as well as Cosgun Cakar and Ali Fuat Yilmazer, both senior police intelligence officers. The three have been accused of intentionally causing Dink’s death and forming an “armed organization”.

Investigations are ongoing to ascertain the full extent of FETO’s role in the assassination of Hrant Dink. Claims range from willful negligence to direct involvement. Some arrested suspects have openly blamed FETO, stating that the “Dink assassination was organized by members of FETO/parallel state structure and his murder then formed the basis of the [July 15] coup attempt”.

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