The most common trend of surveillance states in the recent years is to chase after whistleblowers and attempt to limit citizens’ information sources that are not of government version of events. Secret information on the other hand has lured attention of millions of people at all times. In the last few years, names of Julian Assange, Bradley (Chelsea) Manning and Edward Snowden have become more popular among ordinary civilians and people from all over the world have found courage in their deeds in revealing the government secrets. The secrecy of private and personal information is one thing, yet it is a completely different thing when someone reveals out the information proving wrongdoings of a government.

One name that has come to be associated with such deeds is Utku Kali from Turkey. A young soldier from the Turkish Armed Forces, who happened to be the guard on duty from the expected leakage hour of some secret documents concerning the deadliest terrorist attacks in the history of Turkish Republic. On May 11th 2013, Reyhanli –a Turkish town near Syrian border- was target of a major explosion which left over 50 dead behind. Just 11 days after the explosion, on May 22nd a hackers’ group which defines itself as Socialist-Marxist uploaded a folder on cloud sharing platform DropBox, containing leaked documents regarding Reyhanli attacks.

The Reyhanli attacks were faced with utter anger by many people in Turkey, and almost in the immediate aftermath of the attacks, the anti-terror protests turned into anti-government protests and there was declared a ban on broadcast regarding the attacks. Suspicions of the locals combined with the listlessness of the government officials (as no government official delayed their programs or visited the town while opposition members paid their visits and condolences) triggered further protests towards the end of May; which eventually became incorporated into Gezi Park protests which started on 29th of May.

On the day the documents were uploaded, the Minister of Foreign Affairs Ahmet Davutoglu was very quick to declare that the responsible people were caught and justice would be served, however the leaked documents suggested other sources as being involved in the attacks; and moreover that the state officials were aware of the information concerning the date and place of attacks. A day after the whistleblowing occurred, Minister of Interior Muammer Guler stated that the bigger issue is that a leak took place in this situation and a soldier thought to have connection to leaking was under arrest. On the same day, the Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said “do not take these documents seriously and do not publish them, for this would serve in the interest of those who want to diminish Turkish interests.”

The arrested soldier in question was called Utku Kali. He has been declared as the scapegoat of the deadliest terrorist attack and a possible secret plan to drag Turkey into Syrian civil war. While RedHack uploaded several other files regarding the detention of two soldiers and arrest of one Utku Kali, and stated that they were still receiving further files from their informants, Utku was still under arrest. Two days after his arrest, Utku was put on trial at a Military Court and was tried with upto 25 years of prison sentence with the charges of “releasing the pre-explosion secret intelligence of unknown explosions”.

Utku was subject to maltreatment, even physical and psychological torture; all these brought him to the point of a nervous crisis and was transferred from Erzurum Maresal Fevzi Cakmak Hospital to Istanbul Erenkoy Psychiatric Hospital. Utku’s sister and lawyer Ceren Kali says that he was declared “healthy” in only two weeks after his treatment began in Erzurum. Upon his arrival to Sivas Military Prison, health controls proved that his suicidal tendencies still continued and he had to be taken to a mental facility again; yet this did not happen even after eight days of arrival. Continuation of torturous maltreatment is an intensive practice in the time span of eight days. Ceren Kali tells that Utku was strip-searched time after time causing further psychological stress and humiliation, every time he had visitors in military prison. When he was being examined by medical professionals, doctor-patient confidentiality was breached and he never had privacy during his physical and psychological examinations and evaluations.

When Utku had a nervous crisis on the way back from hospital, according to a sergeant officer Utku swore at Turkish Armed Forces, his commanders and military structure in general; for which another case was opened against him with the infamous article 301, insult to Turkishness. He was put on absolute isolation when he was expecting declaration of his innocence and release and other people declared him an enemy of the state and harassed him, threw him their lighters, and shouted “traitor”. Currently all his letters are being censored, his reach to media organs (newspapers in prison) is being obstructed, so that he can not see the news pieces in solidarity with him.

As RedHack continues to receive secret documents from their informants in the Turkish military, Utku’s case reveals further injustice each day. Even before the case has been taken into court room, too many people have declared Utku guilty and caused his psychological health irreversible damage. At the moment, Private Kali is survivor of suicide attempts, nervous crises, deteriorated health conditions and months of imprisonment. Yet, thousands of people in Turkey as well as many academics and journalists stand in solidarity with Utku.

As a last note, it might be good to remind of the meaning of name “Utku”:

Gürkan Özturan – Pirate Party Turkey

Categories: Genel