In an interview with nationalist daily Aydınlık published on Jan. 5, 1997, writer and political strategist Erol Mütercimler said Ergenekon is a Gladio-type gang hidden deep within the state. "It is above the General Staff, the MİT and the prime minister. There are generals, heads of police departments and businessmen within this organization," he noted.
Mütercimler was detained during last week's operations but released on Saturday. He is widely credited as being the first person to have written about Ergenekon.
Ergenekon is suspected of having been behind a series of political assassinations and murders in the country and is believed to have been carrying out preparations for an overthrow of the government. A total of 58 people have been arrested as part of operations conducted against the gang, including retired generals Veli Küçük, Şener Eruygur and Hurşit Tolon.
Mütercimler maintained during his interview that Ergenekon was behind the murder of several people, including journalists Uğur Mumcu and Ahmet Taner Kışlalı. "We also see that Ergenekon has been behind the assassinations of several journalists and scientists. Is it an easy thing [to commit such crimes]? Ergenekon is a big power. It helped the man who shot journalist Abdi İpekçi escape prison and assigned him to assassinate the pope," he claimed.
"Defining it as a gang simplifies Ergenekon. What is a gang? It is the engagement of a number of people in illegal affairs. You cannot define Ergenekon as a gang. It is a unit of a big organization. Alparslan Türkeş (founder of the Nationalist Movement Party, MHP) and Turgut Sunalp (retired general) are within the Ergenekon formation," Mütercimler alleged.
He also called on government officials to root out the Ergenekon gang, saying light should be shed on the gang's activities. "We should uncover the figures who are member to this organization. We should drain this swamp. This organization sees itself above Parliament and the law. It believes it is superior to the nation and the president. This organization should be dissolved, and the crimes it has so far masterminded should be uncovered," he said.
Mütercimler added: "As I worked within the state for long years, I know that forming such organizations necessitates a big budget. It is not easy to establish such an organization as Ergenekon. It, first of all, must have a great staff. There must be businessmen within this organization. There may be drug traffickers as well."