Pilot who flew Erdoğan on Turkey’s coup night, fired over alleged Gülen links

Barış Yurtseven, the pilot of the plane which brought Turkey’s autocratic President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan from Dalaman in Muğla province to İstanbul on the night of a failed military coup attempt last July, was fired from the Turkish Airlines (THY) in February over alleged links to the faith-based Gülen movement.

According to Doğan news agency, Yurtseven could not pass a security examination by the THY because he deposited money to Bank Asya, which was confiscated by the Turkish government due to its links to the Gülen movement following the coup attempt and that he left a device, called transponder, open allowing the plane carrying Erdoğan to be tracked online on the night of the coup attempt.

Transponders, radio transmitters used to identify and locate an aircraft, are supposed to be open under usual circumstances, but they were required to be off out of security concerns during the coup attempt.

Pilot Yurtseven, who worked for the THY for 20 years, said he deposited money in Bank Asya to  pay for his child’s school fees and he had no affiliation with the Gülen movement.

While Yurtseven’s links with the movement were not revealed, he was fired from his job in February.

According to an earlier report in the Posta daily, Erdoğan asked the two pilots in the plane before take-off whether they were on his side. The pilots were reported to have said: “We are on your side till the end. We will do whatever is necessary to take you and your family to your destination. We will die together if necessary.”

A controversial military coup attempt on July 15 killed over 240 people. Immediately after the putsch, the Justice and Development Party (AKP) government along with 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 participants of the Gülen movement in jails.

According to a statement from Turkey’s Justice Ministry on July 13, a total of 50,510 people have been arrested while 169,013 others have been the subject of legal proceedings since the failed coup attempt in Turkey on July 15, 2016 on coup charges. (turkishminute.com) July 13, 2017

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