An allegation of conspiracy leveled against Jen Psaki, the current White House press secretary, by a Turkish prosecutor in 2015 continues to echo in the criminal justice system in Turkey today, a review of court documents has revealed.
The first shot at Paski, at the time spokesperson for the US Department of State, was fired by then-Istanbul Deputy Chief Public Prosecutor Ismail Uçar, who cited Psaki's remarks about anti-government protests in Turkey as criminal evidence in an indictment in 2015. The prosecutor's depiction of Psaki's comments as part of a global conspiracy against the Justice and Development Party (AKP) government were later incorporated into dozens of indictments of critics, opponents and dissidents filed across Turkey.
Commenting on anti-government protests and a violent crackdown by the government during the Gezi Park protests of 2013, Psaki told reporters that Washington was concerned with the number of injuries and was gathering its own information on the incident.
"We believe that Turkey's long-term stability, security and prosperity is best guaranteed by upholding the fundamental freedoms of expression, assembly and association, which is what it seems these individuals were doing," Psaki told reporters on May 31, 2013.
Uçar, a loyalist and partisan who was handpicked by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, quoted Psaki comments in an indictment filed on September 28, 2015 and related it to anti-corruption investigations that were made public in December 2013 that incriminated Erdoğan and his family members. According to his claim, a global conspiracy was initiated against Erdoğan, and the Gezi protests and corruption probes were all part of a calculated campaign to oust him from power. His evidence was, among other peculiar, alleged evidence, Psaki's expressed concerns over the Turkish government's crackdown on the protestors. ...
Similar allegations and Psaki's comments were repeated verbatim in other indictment files across Turkey by partisan prosecutors who serve as tools in the hands of the Erdoğan regime, which blatantly abuses the criminal justice system in order to stifle dissent, muzzle critical voices and launch crackdowns on the opposition. ...
It is not surprising to see such flagrant abuse of the criminal justice system and criminal procedures given the fact that the Erdoğan government has purged and/or jailed some 30 percent of all judges and prosecutors including members of the Constitutional Court and a UN War Crimes judge since 2015. The rule of law has effectively been suspended, and independent and impartial judicial proceedings have today become a mirage in Erdoğan's Turkey.
Psaki is not the only US official targeted by President Erdoğan's partisan judiciary. Laura Lucas Magnuson, the vice president for communications and strategy at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, was also cited in criminal indictments for a statement on Turkey during her tenure as director of strategic communications at the National Security Council.
Turkish prosecutors launched a criminal case against Brett McGurk, the former US envoy for the global coalition to counter the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS). McGurk has been demonized by the government media in Turkey and is often bashed by Turkish officials as part of a huge smear campaign. He currently serves as coordinator for the Middle East and North Africa in Joe Biden's National Security Council. ...
Abdullah Bozkurt, a Middle East Forum Writing Fellow, is a Swedish-based investigative journalist and analyst who runs the Nordic Research and Monitoring Network and is chairman of the Stockholm Center for Freedom.