Hrant Dink threatened by order from former İstanbul Governor Güler

Former İstanbul Vice Governor Ergun Güngör has said during his testimony that Hrant Dink — a Turkish journalist of Armenian origin who was shot dead by an ultra-nationalist teenager in broad daylight eight years ago — was threatened by two National Intelligence Organization (MİT) officials at his office on an order from Güngör and former İstanbul Governor Muammer Güler.

Dink, editor-in-chief of the Turkish-Armenian weekly Agos, was shot dead outside the newspaper’s İstanbul office in broad daylight on Jan. 19, 2007.

Güngör was recently called on by İstanbul Chief Public Prosecutor Gökalp Kürkçü to testify over charges of threatening Dink during a meeting held at his office prior to his death. The meeting was attended by Güngör, Dink and two MİT officials in 2004. During his testimony, Güngör said the meeting was held under orders from Güler.

Dink was invited to the meeting to be warned of “possible danger if he continues to make controversial statements.”

“During the meeting, we talked about the fact that [Dink’s] reports about Sabiha Gökçen [the adopted daughter of the founder of the Turkish Republic] might create [sensitivity] in the public. There was no threat or warning made during this conversation. The İstanbul Police Department was not informed about this meeting. [Under orders] from Güler, I organized the meeting. I also did not share any information with the police after the meeting ended. However, I briefed Güler on the meeting in detail. The report that Dink wrote about Gökçen was confiscated by MİT officials,” Güngör told the prosecutor.

The former governor also said that the authority to grant Dink security guards for protection belonged to former Minister Güler.

It was previously claimed that Güngör had summoned Dink to his office on Feb. 24, 2004, where two MİT agents warned the journalist to be “more careful” about what he wrote. The meeting came a week after Dink had suggested that Gökçen was in fact an Armenian orphan. During the conversation, the deputy governor and two MİT officials allegedly threatened Dink by saying, “We know who you are but society may not” and “we are concerned that society might not be able to understand things like this.”

Lawyers for the victim’s family also previously stated that Dink had clearly acknowledged in his weekly column on Jan. 12, 2007 that he was threatened with what two MİT officials called a “warning” at the office of the former vice governor.

However, during his recent testimony to Prosecutor Kürkçü, Güngör stated that the possible threats to Dink’s life were never discussed in the February meeting.

He also claimed that he introduced two MİT officials — Ö.Y. and H.S. — to Dink as his relatives during the meeting. Güngör said: “I introduced the MİT officials as my relatives because the officials requested [that I] keep their identities secret. We deemed this request to be appropriate. I just made a short introduction, then Ö.Y. took the floor and made some evaluations with Dink [during the meeting].”

Güngör also claimed that he was never informed about the intelligence report that was prepared by the Trabzon Police Department and sent to İstanbul police on Feb. 17, 2006, in which Trabzon police warned of an alleged assassination plot targeting Dink.

Then, Prosecutor Kürkçü reportedly asked Güngör about an order that was sent on March 2, 2004 by İstanbul Deputy Police Chief Ahmet Aydın to police units to take necessary measures to secure Dink’s home and workplace. In response, Güngör reportedly told the prosecutor that he does not remember that order.

The intelligence report sent by the Trabzon police had warned that Yasin Hayal — now a key suspect in the ongoing Dink murder trial — was planning to assassinate Dink.

Ex-İstanbul police chief denies Hürriyet’s allegation

Former İstanbul Police Chief Ali Fuat Yılmazer, who was placed in police custody pending the Dink murder trial, has denied the Hürriyet daily’s recent allegation that Yılmazer prevented Mühittin Zenit from revealing some details about the case. Zenit was also arrested on charges of negligence and misconduct for disclosing information. The daily report claimed that Zenit was wanted for questioning by İstanbul police after Dink’s assassination, but Yılmazer prevented Zenit from going to İstanbul to share significant details about the murder.

In a statement from his lawyer, Yılmazer denied the allegations, which he says are mere attempts to mislead the public and to put the blame for the Dink murder on him. Defining the recent allegations as “completely baseless and slanderous,” Yılmazer stated that the recent allegations aim to tarnish his name in the public eye.

Yılmazer also added that the key suspects in the Dink murder trial were offered various promises in return for making false statements to implicate Yılmazer for the crime.

Yılmazer also stated that the testimony given last year by hitman Ogün Samast seven years after the murder proves the existence of a plot to link the murder to him.

Seven years after the murder, Samast suddenly decided to testify as a witness on Dec. 5, 2014 for Prosecutor Yusuf Hakkı Doğan. Samast’s latest testimony differs from what he said back in 2010. He now claims that while in the home of suspect Erhan Tuncel, he overheard a conversation between two people about Ramazan Akyürek, the former head of the intelligence unit of the National Police Department.

Yılmazer also added that İstanbul police engaged in misconduct and negligence in the Dink murder case, maintaining that the current plot aims to shift the blame from İstanbul police to him and several other individuals.

Dink was shot to death by ultranationalist teenager Ogün Samast in 2007. Evidence discovered since the murder has led to claims that Dink’s murder was linked to the “deep state,” a shadowy group of military and civilian bureaucrats in Turkey believed to have links with organized crime.

Source: Today’s Zaman October 4, 2015

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