Turkish authorities have detained a former official involved in a controversial 2014 search of Syria-bound trucks. While media reported the vehicles were full of ammunition, Ankara claimed they carried “aid for the Turkmen” and branded the search “treason.”
Former Prosecutor Yasar Kavalcioglu was detained after an ID check on a passenger bus in Istanbul early on Monday, according to Anadolu news agency. Kavalcioglu was put on search list for his role in the truck issue, the Daily Sabah notes.
In January 2014, when Gendarmerie intercepted trucks belonging to Turkey’s National Intelligence Organization (MIT), after prosecutors of the Adana province got a tip-off that the trucks were carrying weapons for rebel and terrorist groups in Syria.
The search exposed large amount of munitions under a thin layer of medical supplies in large containers marked ‘FRAGILE’. The discovery, however, led only to arrests of the officials involved in the search of the vehicles.
The truck incident got an international attention in May 2015 when the Cumhuriyet newspaper’s website released a footage allegedly showing the inspection. The MIT trucks had been carrying over 80,000 rounds of ammunition of various calibers, some 1,000 mortar shells and hundreds of grenade launchers projectiles, the newspaper reported.
Turkish officials made quite contradictory statements after the paper’s report, either admitting or denying the weapons’ presence, denying the existence of the delivery altogether and eventually settling on the story that the convoy carried “aid destined for the Turkmen.”
READ MORE: Turkish intelligence ‘aided shipment of arms’ to Syrian rebel areas
In 2015, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan confirmed that the trucks belonged to MIT, but were merely carrying “aid.” He added that the prosecutors had no right to search the vehicles, and accused them of “treason and espionage” and being part of a “parallel state” run by his political enemies, who are determined to discredit the government.
In the aftermath of the last year’s botched coup, the 2014 truck incident gained a new “understanding,” as a former top gendarmerie official openly branded it a “coup attempt that targeted our president” by followers of Erdogan’s rival, Fethullah Gulen, who later “attempted to turn into a plot inside gendarmerie.”
A week ago another prosecutor involved in the trucks case, Aziz Takci, who has been under arrest since 2015, faced up to 15 years in jail on charges of being a part of the Gulen movement, according to judicial sources, quoted by Turkish media.