An officer in the Turkish gendarmerie, notorious for his alcoholism and womanizing and indicted for leaking secret counterterrorism documents to an organized crime network, was enlisted as a government witness in sham trials against critics after his release by the government of President Recep Tayyip Erdo?an.
According to documents obtained by Nordic Monitor, Turkish investigators found classified documents in the possession of a high-profile suspect who obtained secret documents from military officers in a honey trap scheme in 2010-2011. Prostitutes, both Turkish and foreign, were used by the gang to extract information from military and government officials.
When investigators traced the origin of documents, it led to Musa Ünsal (41), a gendarmerie captain who had already been flagged in the past by his superiors for misconduct. He was previously indicted, tried, convicted and sentenced to prison on charges of document forgery.
Prosecutor Zafer K?l?nç, who investigated him, checked with the General Staff on the status of four documents that were seized in the course of an investigation into the gang, which used prostitutes to obtain such documents. The prosecutor was told two of them needed to remain secret, and the General Staff warned that the revelation of the content of the seized documents could jeopardize counterterrorism efforts and create security vulnerabilities in and around military bases.
The documents were found in an encrypted file named Pandora on a seized hard drive that was cracked by IT specialists hired by the court. Capt. Ünsal was mentioned as the man who leaked the four military documents in the files.
The General Staff’s analysis of the seized documents:
One of the documents, stamped secret, included intelligence on a planned terrorist attack. The intel was collected by the 2nd Training Battalion Command located in Izmir. The document had details of counter measures ordered by the command to prevent a possible attack by the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), listed as a terrorist group by Turkey, the US and the EU.
The second document, also marked secret, was about an improvised explosive device (IED) attack on military housing occupied by the families of officers. The document mentioned general safeguards in the event of such an attack, and the General Staff said it would no longer consider it classified information in the aftermath of the attack.
The third document included a list that featured details of thermal cameras, weapons systems and other military equipment used by the gendarmerie. Although it was not marked secret, the General Staff said the content of the document must be considered classified as it would reveal the capabilities of the gendarmerie, which is responsible for law enforcement in the rural areas of the country. The fourth document was a PowerPoint presentation that explained the layout of the gendarmerie headquarters in Ankara. The General Staff also expressed concern about disseminating this document.
Another non-military document seized from the gang during the execution of a search warrant pointed out that Ünsal selected his neighbor, Sabahattin Güzel, a small business owner, as a mark to blackmail because of Güzel’s position in the local office of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) in Bergama. He wrote in the note that Güzel had a weakness for women. He said that could be exploited to set him up for blackmail in a honey trap scheme so that the gang could have leverage to influence the policies of the local AKP branch. He even suggested the names of three escort women he knew to help set up the honey trap.
According to the documents, Ünsal’s handler in the criminal enterprise was Col. Bülent Acar, a suspect in the case who was alleged to have coordinated the flow of information. In the police statement Ünsal claimed he knew Acar from his military school years as they graduated at the same time. That was impossible given the fact that they had different ranks — Acar was a colonel and was a captain in 2012, meaning that they graduated in different years. According to the notes seized from the gang, Ünsal was profiled by the gang as an alcoholic and a rich man.
The allegations in the indictment filed by prosecutor K?l?nç are in line with the pattern of behavior that drew the ire of Ünsal’s commanders in the military long before his detention in 2012. Complaints had been filed in the past about his misconduct, alcoholism and womanizing. An internal military investigation conducted in May 2011 was able to substantiate some of the allegations leveled against him.
The investigation into him was initiated when a complaint was submitted to the Gendarmerie General Command in the capital city of Ankara. He was accused of engaging in sexual relations with multiple partners and yielding to blackmail by a gang that secretly recorded his sexual encounters in hotel rooms. He frequently drank on the job, sometimes with his subordinates, in violation of the military code of conduct and regulations. After interviewing a number of witnesses, the military investigators concluded that he broke the regulations and tarnished the image of the gendarmerie in the eyes of the public.
His commanding officer, Col. Serdar I??ksoy, issued him a disciplinary citation and a final warning on June 15. 2011, threatening him with further action if his misconduct continued. Ünsal was removed from his command in the city of Bergama and assigned to a training regiment in Bornova in a move that was considered a demotion. The military wanted to keep him away from public scrutiny.
Warning letter issued to Musa Ünsal by his commanding officer over his conduct:
Ünsal’s record shows that he was indicted on charges of forgery of official documents after an investigation was launched into him in 2008 when he was serving as garrison commander in Akyaz?, located in the northwestern province of Sakarya. He was tried by the Sakarya 2nd High Criminal Court under case file No.2010/27, convicted and sentenced to two years, six months in prison. The conviction was upheld by the Supreme Court of Appeals on November 19, 2014.
He was detained on July 6, 2012 when investigators identified him as one of the moles who had leaked confidential information to a gang in exchange for sexual favors from prostitutes. He was released pending trial but was expelled from the gendarmerie given the seriousness of the allegations, his conviction of forgery and punishment for misconduct.
The illegal activities of Ünsal and other gang members was discovered after police in Izmir received a tip on August 10, 2010 informing them of a sex and human trafficking network that was involved in blackmail, prostitution, invasion of privacy and other criminal activities. Police briefed the prosecutor’s office and submitted preliminary findings on the people named in the tip. The prosecutor on October 26, 2010 ordered the organized crime unit to investigate the claims and suspects named in the whistleblower’s account.
A report dated December 3, 2010 shows the police investigated the claims and identified nine people, including Russian and Belarusian women, who were involved in the gang. The report indicated that the gang forced women to engage in sex, seized the passports of foreign women who were lured to Turkey and forced to work in honey trap schemes. The gang was recording the sexual encounters to blackmail government officials. The report showed that the police obtained wiretap authorizations from the court in order to learn more about the gang and map out the network.
The investigators had worked on the case for two years, obtained wiretap authorizations from the courts and ran surveillance on suspects to decode the network. It turned out the gang was much more than a sex trafficking network and resembled more of an espionage group collecting top secret information from various government and military officials through honey traps, sexual favors or blackmail. Among the thousands of pages of secret documents were classified NATO and FBI documents that were shared with the Turkish government as a member of the alliance.
The first wave of arrests took place on May 9-10, 2012 at the order of prosecutor, and additional criminal evidence was gathered from the homes and offices of suspects during the execution of search and seizure warrants. More arrests were made after further evidence was obtained from the suspects and their homes and workplaces. In the end 357 suspects including 55 active duty officers and numerous retired officers were indicted when the prosecutor filed criminal charges against the gang in 2013.
The indictment also revealed how NATO and US security was compromised. For example, NATO documents such as the assets and capabilities of the Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EAD) units operating in every NATO member state, secret US and NATO directives in bomb-making and bomb-diffusion techniques, FBI bomb-making analyses, electronic warfare data used in the NATO alliance, technical, tactical and procedural data for F-16s and sensitive information on US-made Hawk medium-range surface-to-air missile systems.
However, the criminal case against the gang members was quashed by the Erdo?an government, and all the suspects were let go. In the meantime, prosecutors, judges and police investigators who uncovered the massive espionage ring were punished either by dismissal or arrest on trumped-up charges.
Ünsal still lives in Izmir and runs a real estate agency and car dealership. He was listed as a witness against the prosecutors, judges and police chiefs whom the Erdo?an government purged while appearing in pro-government media outlets to spew fabrications and lies about Erdo?an’s critics and opponents.