Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Turkish nationalists plotted to kill Nobel winner

23 January 2008
Khaleej Times, United Arab Emirates

ISTANBUL - Police believe Nobel laureate novelist Orhan Pamuk and Kurdish politicians were on the hit list of an ultranationalist group whose alleged members were detained this week, newspapers reported Wednesday.

Thirty-three people, including retired soldiers, journalists, nationalist lawyers and underworld figures, are being interrogated in Istanbul, prosecutors said in a statement.

They were detained Tuesday as part of a probe into the discovery of hand grenades and bomb detonators in a house in Istanbul in June, the statement said, without giving other details.

Police believe the suspects were planning to assassinate Pamuk, who won the 2006 Nobel literature prize, prominent journalist Fehmi Koru and Kurdish politicians Leyla Zana, Osman Baydemir and Ahmet Turk, the daily Milliyet reported.

Police are also investigating whether the suspects were involved in several politically motivated attacks that shocked Turkey over the past two years, the daily Sabah said.

They include the murders of ethnic Armenian journalist Hrant Dink, Italian Catholic priest Andrea Santoro and a senior judge killed by a gunman who stormed into the country’s top administrative court, the daily said.

Officials said the suspects include Kemal Kerincsiz, a lawyer notorious for initiating legal action against Pamuk, Dink and other intellectuals for disputing the official line on the World War I Ottoman era massacres of Armenians.

Turkey fiercely rejects Armenian claims, backed by several Western countries, that the killings were genocide.

Another prominent detainee is retired general Veli Kucuk, who has been accused of organising extra-judicial killings of Kurds in the 1990s.

The suspects also include a retired colonel, a newspaper columnist, the spokeswoman of the Turkish Orthodox Church and two prominent underworld figures.

Sabah termed the detentions a blow against the ‘deep state’-a term used here to describe members of the security forces acting outside the law to preserve what they consider Turkey’s best interests, often employing the services of the underworld.

Dink’s family claims that the journalist’s self-confessed teenage assassin was incited by people who remain at large and enjoy the protection of some members of the security forces.

Note: Above are excerpts from the article. The full article appears here. Clarifications and comments by me are contained in {}. Deletions are marked by [...]. The bold emphasis is mine.



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