Key coup suspect says he was threatened by armed men to support putsch in Turkey

Anti-coup groups are cheering after the failure of military coupe attempt in Turkey on July 15, 2016.

Brig. Gen. Hakan Evrim, a suspect in the July 15 coup attempt trial and commander of Akıncı Airbase, where Chief of General Staff Gen. Hulusi Akar was taken hostage, said on Tuesday that he was surrounded by armed men and soldiers on coup night and threatened to support the putsch against the government.

Speaking during his defense at the Ankara 17th High Criminal Court in Sincan where 221 suspects accused of being ringleaders of a controversial coup attempt on July 15 are standing trial, Evrim denied his involvement in the coup attempt and said he was threatened to provide logistic support from Akıncı Airbase.

“I saw armed people, some civilians and some soldiers, in front of 141th air squadron in the evening [of July 15, 2016]. I asked ‘Who are you? What are you doing here?’ and they suddenly surrounded and pointed their guns at me. They told me ‘There is nothing related to you. We don’t want to harm you, your family and your personnel. If you want well being of them and yourself, just do what we want. Otherwise, it will not be good for you and for your personnel’,” he said according to a report in Diken website.

Underlining that he was forcefully taken to 143th air squadron where he was told that Chief of General Staff Hulusi Akar came to his office and he has to welcome him as the commander of the airbase, Evrim said Akar was there along with former Air Force Commander Akın Öztürk who is also a jailed suspect in coup attempt trials.

“There were 5-6 people along with Öztürk and Akar. I sit on my chair as it was the only empty chair in my office and kept silent. They were talking about the developments in that night and I had no idea about details. As they speak, I just used an opportunity to leave the room when somebody talked about need to call someone. While leaving the room, I addressed Akar and showed him the room where our aide-de-camp sit and told him that they can help him if he wants to talk to anyone on phone,” he said.

Denying claims by Akar that Evrim offered to put him in touch with US-based Turkish Islamic scholar Fethullah Gülen, who is accused by Turkish authorities of being the mastermind of the failed coup, by phone on the night of the coup, Evrim had said during a hearing in May:

“[Generals] Hulusi Akar, Akın Öztürk, Kubilay Selçuk and Mehmet Dişli were in the room. Akar said he agreed with the accusations and that the country should be get out of its difficulties. He said meeting with [former President] Abdullah Gül, [former Prime Minister] Ahmet Davutoğlu and other party members would be useful. I said if you want, I can help you have phone conversations with the leaders of civil society, and opposition party members as well. I was not there to persuade Akar. I was taken there by force.”

Repeating his earlier views on the coup attempt, Evrim said: “This was not a coup attempt that originated with the TSK. It was carried out by people who knew nothing about planning. July 15 was planned to fail.” (turkishminute.com)

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