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Navy Officials Arrested over Spying Case | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Moscow and Ankara are normalising ties after Turkish leader Recep Tayyip Erdogan (right) wrote to his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin to apologise for the downing of the jet in November 2015 (AFP Photo/Adem Altan)

Istanbul – Prosecutors in Izmir governorate released an arrest warrant for two admirals and four navy majors for producing fake evidence and blackmailing in a now-closed military spying case.

The case was linked to Islamic scholar Fethullah Gülen, who is accused by the government and President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of attempting to topple the regime.

One major was arrested as part of an operation that took place in ten provinces across Turkey, while the arrest of the other soldiers was postponed due to health reports.

A court in Izmir had acquitted in February 357 suspects, including active duty soldiers, in the trial of a military espionage case where the defendants were accused of “keeping confidential military information and documents.”

Reports revealed that the new arrest warrant came after a number of police officials, including former Izmir Police Chief Ail Bilkay, were accused of military espionage and organizing a plot against soldiers and having links to Gülen.

They were also accused of belonging to an entity that produced fake evidence to indict other naval officials who were accused of forming a prostitution network that hires foreign girls; they were acquitted by Erdogan.

Meanwhile, security sources informed that Kurdish gunmen carried out a car bomb attack on a military outpost in southeastern Turkey on Saturday. The result was one dead soldier and another civilian, while seven soldiers were injured.

Turkey had increased its security procedures on its 900 Km border with Syria to prevent any ISIS members from crossing over to join the fight in Syria, or any Syrian from immigrating to Turkey due to the five-years war.

Separately, Antakia Airport received the first Russian commercial airplane in an indication of the end of the 8-month diplomatic crisis between Russia and Turkey following the downing of Russian Su-24 jet in 2015.

The flight took off from Vnukovo International Airport in Moscow carrying 189 tourists and touched down at Antalya’s International airport.

The resumption may be attributed to President Erdogan’s apology for the incident when he visited Russia and met with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Erdogan also expressed condolences to the family of the killed pilot.

The downing of the Russian warplane led to a crisis between Russia and Turkey and sparked a war of words between the leaders.

Putin called it a “stab in the back” and demanded an apology from Erdogan.

Russian agencies’ ban caused a crushing blow to the Turkish tourism industry, which is hugely reliant on Russian tourists especially on its Mediterranean coast. It also cost Turkey an amount of five billion dollars in agriculture and contracting.

Analysts believe that Ankara repaired relations with Moscow after the crisis left Turkey in a dangerous international isolation.

Meanwhile, Director of Russian Federal Agency for Tourism Oleg Safonov said that Turkey witnessed 256 terrorist attack this year, and thus they don’t expect many Russian tourists in Turkey.

Safonov told Russia 24 TV that charter flights will presumably land in Turkey in the near future.

Aside from former Russian – Turkish crisis, tourism in Turkey is expected to suffer following the June 28 triple suicide attack at Ataturk International Airport in Istanbul and other attacks in Turkey.

Number of tourists is not expected to exceed 1.5 million this year, while it reached 3.5 million in 2015 and 4.5 million in 2014.