Erdoğan aide says president’s advisors were making coup jokes before July 15

Col. Ali Yazıcı, the top military aide for Turkey’s autocratic President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan who was arrested in the aftermath of a failed coup attempt on July 15 on coup charges, has said Erdoğan’s advisors used to make coup-related jokes before the failed putsch.

Yazıcı is among the 221 suspects accused of being among the ringleaders of the failed coup attempt on July 15 whose trial began at an Ankara court on Monday.

There are over two dozen former Turkish generals among the 221 suspects.

During Tuesday’s hearing at the Ankara 17th High Criminal Court, Yazıcı delivered his defense in which he denied having any links to the coup attempt.

When asked about claims in the Turkish media suggesting that Yazıcı once made a joke about  a possible coup attempt before July 15, he said: “It was not me but president’s advisors who were making such jokes. I learned about the coup attempt on July 15 but there were rumors about a coup attempt one month ago.”

When the judge asked Yazıcı whether it was Erdoğan’s advisors who made those rumors, he said he does not want to answer this question.

In his defense, Yazıcı also denied having any links to the faith-based Gülen movement, which is accused by the Turkish government of masterminding the failed putsch.

The movement strongly denies having any links to the coup attempt.

He said it was President Erdoğan himself who selected him as his military aide after an extensive investigation of his background and if he had had any links to the movement, Erdoğan would not have chosen him.

When asked whether who could have masterminded the coup attempt, Yazıcı said: “I have been thinking about this for 10 months but could not reach a conclusion.”

More than 240 people were killed in the coup attempt. Immediately after the putsch, the Justice and Development Party (AKP) government along with President Erdoğan pinned the blame on the Gülen movement.

Fethullah Gülen, who inspired the movement, strongly denied having any role in the failed coup and called for an international investigation into it, but President Erdoğan — calling the coup attempt “a gift from God” — and the government initiated a widespread purge aimed at cleansing sympathizers of the movement from within state institutions, dehumanizing its popular figures and putting them in custody.

According to a statement from Turkish Justice Minister Bekir Bozdağ on May 6, 149,833 people have been investigated and 48,636 have been jailed as part of an investigation targeting the Gülen movement since the July 15 coup attempt in Turkey. ( May 23, 2017

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