Summary and Current Status
Dr. Faruk Yarman is a Turkish engineer, educated in Turkey and the United States. Early on in his career he was a professor of engineering at Anatolian University. For the past 25 years, he has worked for various companies in the defense industry, and, at the time of his arrest, he was general director of Havelsan, one of two state-owned defense industry companies in Turkey. Dr. Yarman was arrested on August 13, 2011, and accused of being involved in the alleged coup plot named “Operation Sledgehammer.” Although he has never been in the military, he was accused alongside more than 360 current and retired members of the military with planning a coup in 2003 to overthrow the Justice and Development Party (AKP) government.
Dr. Yarman’s case was heard before the courts in January 2012. On September 21, 2012, Dr. Yarman (one of only two nonmilitary defendants in the Sledgehammer trial) and 326 high-level military officers were convicted by a panel of three judges. Dr. Yarman was sentenced to 13 years and 4 months in prison. The alleged masterminds of the plot were sentenced to life in prison, but had their sentences commuted to 20 years in prison on the grounds that the plot had not been successful. Thirty-six defendants were acquitted; three had their verdicts postponed. Dr. Yarman and the other defendants who were convicted all appealed their verdicts before the Supreme Court of Appeals. On October 9, 2013, his conviction was overturned, and he was released from prison.
Dr. Yarman earned his undergraduate degree in electrical engineering at the Technical University of Istanbul in 1978. He completed his M.S. and his Ph.D. in nuclear engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1982 and 1984, respectively. (He studied under the late Dr. A.F. Henry.) That same year he returned to Turkey to work as an assistant professor of electrical engineering at Anatolian University.
Since 1986, Dr. Yarman has worked in the defense industry in several different capacities. He began his work as the planning manager of Savronic, Inc., a fully owned subsidiary of STFA Group, and rose to become the company’s managing director. In this capacity he oversaw the STFA Group’s defense investments in fire control systems, secure communication, military ship building, missiles, and strategic telecommunications networks. At the time of his arrest, he was the general manager of Havelsan, a software and information technology company that he joined in 1999. It is one of two state-owned defense industry companies (along with Aselsan) in Turkey. Over the years, he also has served on the boards of directors of several companies including Defense Technology and Engineering Inc., Thompson Radar, and Thomson High Technology Inc. Dr. Yarman has published widely on energy policies, defense electronics, and Turkish and international trends in the defense industry. Active in the Union of Chambers of Industry, Trade, and Bourses of Turkey, Dr. Yarman served as the president of its Defense Industry Sector Council from 2001 to 2006 and is currently a member of the Computer Software and Defense Industry Council. He also has served as the head and a member, respectively, of the Turkish delegation in the European Defense Industry Group and the NATO Industrial Advisory Group.
Dr. Yarman was arrested on August 13, 2011. He was accused of being involved in “Operation Sledgehammer,” an alleged military coup plot the government claims was planned in 2003 but never carried out. The prosecution alleges that the plans for the purported coup are all contained on a single CD called “No. 11” in the indictment. The prosecution has further claimed that a document on the 11th CD was created by someone with the username “fyarman.” Other documents and CDs have since been added to the case as alleged evidence of the coup plot. Reliable reports indicate, however, that the CDs, including CD No. 11, and documents presented by the prosecution contain hundreds of inaccuracies and errors that demonstrate they have been fabricated.
On January 19, 2012, after five months in detention, Dr. Yarman presented his defense before the court. He and 326 high-level officers were convicted on September 21, 2012. He was sentenced to 13 years and 4 months in prison—the only “evidence” produced against him being the username on a CD that is similar to his own name.
Those convicted appealed the verdict. On October 9, 2013, the Supreme Court of Appeals overturned Dr. Yarman’s conviction and that of 88 other defendants. (The court upheld the convictions of 237 defendants and the previous acquittal of 36 defendants.) In its ruling regarding Dr. Yarman, the court deemed that there was no “adequate, concrete, convincing evidence to sentence the defendant.” Following his acquittal, Dr. Yarman was released from Silivri prison and has returned home.