Opposition DEVA Party founder detained on ‘political espionage’ charges

Metin Gürcan, a founding member of the opposition Democracy and Progress Party (DEVA), was detained in a police raid on his house on Friday morning on charges of “political espionage,” Turkish Minute reported.

“I am being detained on charges of political espionage. The police officers are at my home… They are searching the house. I am shocked. Looking for your support,” Gürcan tweeted early on Friday.

“Turkish opposition figure, former military officer & political analyst Metin Gürcan says he is being detained on charges of ‘political espionage.’ Gürcan is an astute commentator on the Turkish military & foreign policy,” journalist Ayla Jean Yackley said in response to Gürcan’s tweet.

“Al-Monitor contributor Metin Gürcan was detained this morning on ‘political espionage’ charges—whatever that means. He says he was ‘shocked.’ Sadly nothing that happens in Turkey is shocking these days and I fear it will grow darker before we see happier days,” journalist Amberin Zaman tweeted.

DEVA leader Ali Babacan expressed support for Gürcan, saying his party would not be intimidated by any politically motivated act

“If there is a political motivation targeting our party behind this move, we will not be intimidated,” Babacan said, addressing his party’s İstanbul organization.

DEVA Deputy Chairman Mustafa Yeneroğlu also posted a message on Twitter, noting that Gürcan was detained in connection with an investigation launched in 2020 and there were also other people taken into custody under the same investigation.

In his recent tweets, Gürcan, a military analyst and a former officer who was writing columns for Al-Monitor’s Turkey Pulse, criticized Oktay Saral, an advisor to President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, for remarks he made in a tweet on Wednesday. Saral targeted the opposition parties that slammed the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) for signing deals with the United Arab Emirates, which they had accused of being behind a coup attempt on July 15, 2016.

In his tweet, Saral stated that the opposition parties do not belong in Turkey as they work against the survival of the country.

“This mindset is that of Venezuela, Turkmenistan and North Korea. If Turkey is still not a a dictatorship, this is not because the AKP chairman does not want to be a dictator. Rather, it is because the opposition in Turkey is still strong and pluralistic and because civil society has a firm belief in democracy despite everything,” Gürcan tweeted, replying to Saral.

Gürcan further criticized the shift in rhetoric the ruling AKP employed regarding the UAE, saying that although it had referred to the UAE as an external power conspiring against Turkey in the past, the AKP is now treating it as a sponsor of their so-called “economic war of independence.”

The shift was marked by a visit to Ankara this week by Abu Dhabi’s Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed, the highest-level interaction after years of tension between Turkey and the UAE, which have backed opposing sides in the Libyan conflict and sparred on several other regional issues.

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