An alleged assassination plot against Ecumenical Patriarch Vartholomeos has been foiled by police in Turkey. According to Turkish media, one suspect has been arrested while police is searching for two others.
The investigation was launched after a letter was sent from the Central Anatolia province of Kayseri, claiming that the Ecumenical Patriarch would be the target of an assassination attempt on May 29th, the 560th anniversary of Istanbul’s conquest by the Ottomans..
A man was detained and police forces are searching for two others. The suspects recently arrived in Istanbul from Kayseri, police sources said.
Serdar A., the detained suspect, refuted the claims and said he was in Istanbul to visit his relatives and he had no intention or plan of murdering Vartholomeos.
A file opened by a Kayseri prosecutor has been handed over to the Ankara public prosecutor.
The investigation revealed that another letter was sent to prosecutors in 2008 claiming that the arrested suspect was planning to murder Vartholomeos.
It is not the first time that Ecumenical Patriarch Vartholomeos is target of an assassination plot.
A separate case filed regarding another plot to assassinate the was earlier merged with the ongoing investigation into Ergenekon, an alleged clandestine, secularist ultra-nationalist organization in which members of the army and security forces were plotting to overthrow the Turkish government.
The plot to kill Vartholomeos is thought to be part of the Cage Operation Action Plan, a subversive plot allegedly devised by military officers that sought to undermine the government through the assassination of non-Muslims and other acts of terror. The Cage plan was allegedly drawn up on the orders of Ergenekon. Cage plan documents specifically refer to the killings of Armenian-Turkish journalist Hrant Dink, Catholic priest Father Andrea Santoro and three Christians in Malatya as an “operation.”
During an interview in 2009, Vartholomeos said that “dark forces planned to use minorities to overthrow the government,” as revealed in the investigation into Ergenekon.
Vartholomeos’ name is also on the Sledgehammer coup plot’s “to be assassinated” list.
The plot was allegedly prepared by a pro-junta secularist group nested within the armed forces. Non-Muslims such as Armenian Patriarch Mesrob Mutafyan and former Vatican representative George Marovic were also on the Sledgehammer death list.
Based in İstanbul, Ecumenical Patriarch Vartholomeos is the spiritual leader of the world’s approximately 300 million Orthodox Christians. He is Turkish citizen of Greek ethnicity and powerful figure of the non-Muslim minorities in Turkey.