Specially-authorized prosecutor Sadrettin Sarikaya has apparently issued immediate detention orders for former MIT head Emre Taner and current MIT undersecretary Afet Gunes, as well as two other MIT officials. The detention orders were issued just days after news broke that Sarikaya was conducting a probe into the possible involvement of MIT in perpetrating PKK terrorism. The ultimate target of the investigation could well be Prime Minister Erdogan (for background, see yesterday's post).
The detention order is a bold move and the first of its kind. Apparently police also searched the homes of the agents. Erdogan is standing by MIT, insisting yesterday and before the detention orders that Sarikaya did not have the authority to question Taner, Gunes, or current MIT head Hakan Fidan without first seeking his approval.
Instead of reporting to the prosecutor's office in Istanbul, Fidan paid a visit to President Gul's office in Ankara while the prime minister's office spearheaded efforts to craft legislation to further shield MIT agents from prosecution. Legislation is said to include provisions that could make it outright illegal to prosecute intelligence officials, a move that has sparked some to criticize the government as hypocritical (it had no problem with prior specially-authorized prosecutions) and anti-democratic. Sarikaya's persistence flies in the face of these efforts, and might be read as a direct challenge to Erdogan's authority.
The investigation has prompted a firestorm of speculation as to what forces and motivations might be behind Sarikaya's investigation. So far, the rumors have included conjectures that elements within the state opposed to the dovish stance the MIT has taken toward the PKK are behind the investigation (see Yeni Safak's Abdulkadir Selvi), as well as notions that Sarikaya is being directed by the Gulen movement, which is largely thought to have deeply penetrated critical positions in the police and judiciary (see .
Tensions within AKP ranks have made themselves increasingly manifest in recent months (see past post), and Gulen is thought also to oppose moves the Erdogan government has made to negotiate with the PKK. Additionally, rivalry between the MIT and the police has been considered to be high for sometime, and according to some observers, might have increased in recent months as MIT agents who had infiltrated KCK were (and this is speculation) detained in the operations against the illegal organization.
Could the same forces behind the audio tapes leaked in September also be responsible for Sarikaya? And is it a matter of doves versus hawks, Erdogan versus Gulen, or some other power struggle/conspiracy that has yet to be revealed?
One has to be careful with conspiracy theories, but there is obviously something fishy going on.