After he was kept behind bars for 12 days as part of an investigation into Turkish hacker group RedHack, Taylan Kulaçoğlu, an alleged member of the group, has said he was threatened with rape during his detention.
Six people including Kulaçoğlu who were detained on Sept. 24 as part of investigation into the hacker group were released on Thursday. The suspected members of the group were detained immediately after RedHack claimed that it had hacked the email accounts of Berat Albayrak, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s son-in-law and energy minister of Turkey.
The hackers threatened to disclose 20 GB of secret information if the Turkish government failed to release Alp Altınörs, deputy co-chairperson of the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), and prize-winning novelist and journalist Aslı Erdoğan by a given deadline.
“You will be the wife of everybody here. We will cut your hair as well. You will be [forced] to sleep with every one of us. Prison is not like outside. You have no idea what is happening here. We are no longer in the year 2013,” Kulaçoğlu quoted prison officials as telling him, according to the Cumhuriyet daily on Thursday.
“Where did you get these documents? Tell me the where those emails are kept. Give us information and we let you go,” he said referring to the pressure imposed on him by prison officials.
Denying any link to RedHack, he said maltreatment was not limited only to those detained as part of the crackdown against the hacker group.
“There was awful treatment of all detainees. Not only of us but also of those imprisoned as part of the MHP [ Nationalist Movement Party] case. They were also being tortured. They told me: ‘We faced capital punishment during the Sept.12, 1980 [coup] era. But it was better back then.’ Believe me, they have no mercy on people in custody,” he added.
Noting that 25-year-old Uğur Cihan Okutulmuş was detained one day before him as part of the same investigation, Kulaçoğlu added: “RedHack was founded in 1991, and Uğur was born in 1997. They detained Uğur on charges of leading the organization. So Uğur should have established this organization when he was 6. Those are nonsense accusations.”
“Uğur was not speaking with us. At first, we did not understand why. Then we found that he was tortured through several methods including Palestinian Hanging,” Kulaçoğlu said before adding that officials kicking detainees in the head was among common practices.
Kulaçoğlu said he along with other RedHack suspects were released thanks to public outrage and related news in the media.
What does RedHack claim to have uncovered so far?
According to very first leaks, media mogul Aydın Doğan urged his staff to soften its criticism of the government in a 2014 meeting that included editors and columnists in media outlets run by the Doğan Group, an audio tape recorded by Serhat Albayrak, the brother of Berat Albayrak revealed.
Serhat Albayrak is the CEO of Turkuvaz Media Group, the flagship of Turkey’s pro-government media.
According to leakage, Bilal Erdoğan sent an email to Albayrak that proposes a strategy for pro-government lobbyists in the US to target members of the US Congress who were taken on trips to Turkey by US-based sympathizers of the Gülen movement.
Email traffic of Berat Albayrak also showed that spokesperson for the office of President Erdoğan, İbrahim Kalın had commanded the editorial of pro-gov’t dailies Yeni Şafak, Star, Sabah to write stories about the lack of robust coverage for Gaza protests in US media.
Leaked emails revealed plans by a pro-government foundation to assume ownership of a dormitory in Kayseri province that used to be operated by the Gülen movement but was shut down by ruling the Justice and Development Party (AKP) government.
An email which was shared among a number of persons, including Cüneyt Arvasi, Halil Danışmaz, executive director of the Turkish Heritage Organization, a pro-Justice and Development party (AKP) institute in the US, minister Albayrak and his brother, features arms supply routes and jihadist crossings through the Turkish border to Syria.
In a series of emails, correspondence between Doğan Media Group Director General Mehmet Ali Yalçındağ, who is also the son-in-law of Aydın Doğan, and President Erdoğan’s Executive Assistant Hasan Doğan shows how the media re-adjusted and re-shaped its editorial line and media coverage in line with the government’s needs and whims. Additionally, what the leaked emails also reveal is the fact that Yalçındağ constantly kept Serhat Albayrak, brother of Energy Minister Albayrak and CEO of Turkuvaz Media, which runs the Sabah newspaper and the ATV and A Haber television stations, informed about staff meetings at Doğan media and the new editorial policies.
Yalçındağ resigned from his posts amid scandal.
According to leaks, main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) deputy Muharrem İnce sought the support of the Doğan Media Group to torpedo a bid by President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan to adopt a presidential system in Turkey. Doğan Media Group Executive Director Yalçındağ rejected the request, saying that it is inappropriate for a media group to intervene in politics. İnce said only 70 percent of the allegations are true.
What is last but not the least in the leakage is that Berat Albayrak is claimed to be in the position of making important decisions on behalf of Powertrans, an oil company with alleged ties to the terrorist Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) that transports oil from Iraq’s autonomous Kurdish region.
Albayrak’s leaked emails show that he was asked about his views on Powertrans’ organizational structure, personnel lists and employee salaries. In one of the emails in 2012, Albayrak was informed about expenses for food for employees of Powertrans and asked for suggestions on employee recruitment and their salaries.
In a clear reference to the leak scandal, the minister Albayrak called on citizens not to let masked conversations destroy their national stance.