Game of Thrones inquiry linked to Turkey’s coup attempt

U.S. fantasy-drama Games of Thrones has been named in an indictment against a group of military officers allegedly tied to the group that planned last July’s attempted coup in Turkey, a judicial official said Wednesday.

The hit HBO show was singled out in an indictment against 136 military lawyers accused of ties to the Fetullah Terrorist Organization (FETO), which Ankara has said plotted the failed putsch.

The suspects are said to have been assigned to martial courts that the plotters planned to establish if the July 15 coup had succeeded, the official said on condition of anonymity due to restrictions on talking to the media.

One of the key witnesses in the indictment — Lt. Volkan Yetistirici, a prosecutor with the Turkish Navy — investigated five military teachers at Maltepe Military High School in Izmir in 2011 over the screening of the show to students.

The teachers had purportedly shown episodes of the show — known for its frequent nudity and gory violence — to help the students improve their English.

In a case that became known as the Game of Thrones Investigation, they were charged with “insulting Turkishness” and “sexual exploitation” by screening the series to under-18s and later discharged from the army.

In October last year, they were cleared by the Constitutional Court when it ruled their right to a fair trial had been violated.

In the indictment — prepared by the Ankara Public Prosecutor’s Office and sent to the 16th High Penal Court on Tuesday — Yetistirici outlined how the investigation was not properly authorized, the official said.

He accused FETO-linked officers of framing the five teachers. This same FETO cabal then made a complaint against him when he refused to prosecute the 2011 case.

Yetistirici added that FETO typically blacklisted judges and prosecutors not tied to the organization. “The biggest characteristic of this organization is having a cell-type structure and a professional intelligence network,” he said in the document.

In recent years, hundreds of military officers were jailed in cases later shown to have been fabricated by suspected FETO members. The officers were subsequently cleared.

Such cases have been typically characterized as a FETO plan to clear non-members from senior positions to allow group members to take their roles.

Led by U.S.-based Fetullah Gulen, the group is said to have planned the July coup attempt, which led to 249 deaths.

Its efforts to undermine the government have allegedly centered on infiltrating the upper reaches of the state, particularly the military, police and judiciary.