Turkey’s key coup suspect denies meeting Gülen and involvement in putsch

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

Kemal Batmaz, one of the key suspects of Turkey’s July 2016 coup attempt, has denied meeting Fethullah Gülen and organizing the putsch on the second day of the coup trials, Hürriyet daily reported on Wednesday.

Refusing allegations about traveling to US to meet Gülen together with prime coup suspect Adil Öksüz, who has been at large since being released by a court in Sincan, Batmaz said the security camera images were coincidental and he was travelling for business.

“The fact that I have not given any orders and instructions, that I was abroad during the alleged meetings in Ankara proves that I am neither the planner nor the organizer of the meetings. I have never been part of this initiative. I am not accepting these accusations,” said Batmaz.

A total of 486 people accused of taking part in the coup attempt are standing trial. The suspects, who were thought to have received orders from Akıncı Airbase, were allegedly plotting to assassinate Turkey’s autocratic President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on the night of the coup attempt.

According to the Turkish government, Akıncı Airbase, northwest of Ankara, served as the headquarters for plotters and the orders to bomb Parliament and overthrow Erdoğan were sent out from there.

Fethullah Gülen in an interview with France 24 said that Adil Öksüz, who is accused by the Turkish government of being the key figure in the putsch, had links to Turkey’s National Intelligence Organization (MİT) since he was released being detained near an airbase in Ankara during the coup.

One of the main pieces of evidence cited by the Turkish government for Gülen’s alleged involvement in the coup is Öksüz, who is accused of being the head of the Gülen movement’s alleged network within the Turkish Air Forces. He was briefly detained after the coup attempt and is still at large.

On April 5, the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu said President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım do not want the coup attempt to be investigated because they are concerned such a probe could extend to themselves.

“It was a coup attempt designed to fail,” said Kılıçdaroğlu, asking many questions about Adil Öksüz: “Which state institution imported Öksüz’s GPS device? The Prime Ministry will order it, and it will be investigated. He had two mobiles and one GPS device. Why was he not handcuffed like everyone else was? In 2014, a change was made to the MİT law. It said that no MİT personnel could be detained or arrested without the order of the prime minister. Why wasn’t Adil Öksüz arrested or detained?”

On April 25, CHP deputy Eren Erdem claimed that Adil Öksüz and Defense Minister Fikri Işık met a day ahead of a July 15 coup attempt in Turkey.

Speaking to Tele 1 TV, Erdem said Öksüz and Işık met in Sakarya on July 14 and that there is video footage of the meeting. He further claimed that the Turkish National Intelligence Organization (MİT) knows who has the video.

While many questions about what happened on the day and night of the July 15 coup attempt persist, it was revealed that Chief of General Staff Gen. Hulusi Akar and MİT Undersecretary Hakan Fidan had a six-hour meeting in Ankara a day before the failed coup.

The role of Akar and Fidan has been at the center of many questions concerning the July 15 coup attempt. According to official reports, a major informed MİT about the coup plot at 14:00 and Fidan was with Akar at military headquarters until 20:30, half an hour before the coup attempt was launched.

Despite both President Erdoğan and Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım having expressed their uneasiness with Fidan and Akar for failing to inform them about the coup attempt on July 15, and the fact that they had learned of the coup plan six hours earlier notwithstanding, the two retained their posts while over 150,000 people from state institutions were purged and jailed by the government after the coup attempt.

The government also prevented the parliamentary Coup Investigation Commission, which was set up to investigate the failed coup, from questioning Akar and Fidan.

Turkey survived a controversial military coup attempt on July 15, 2016 that killed 249 people and wounded more than a thousand others. Immediately after the putsch the AKP government along with President Erdoğan pinned the blame on the faith-based 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.

Turkey’s Justice Ministry announced on July 13 that 50,510 people have been arrested and 169,013 have been the subject of legal proceedings on coup charges since the failed coup.

Turkey has suspended or dismissed more than 150,000 judges, teachers, police and civil servants since July 15.

Erdoğan is criticized for using the coup attempt as an excuse to oppress dissident voices.

Contrary to accusations made by President Erdoğan and the Turkish government, the Foreign Affairs Committee of the UK Parliament concluded last month that Gülen and the movement he inspired as a whole were not behind the failed coup in Turkey.

The UK Parliament statement came a week after Germany rejected Erdoğan and the Turkish government’s accusations against the Gülen movement about July 15.

The head of Germany’s Federal Intelligence Service (BND), Bruno Kahl, said Turkey could not convince them that US-based Turkish-Islamic scholar Gülen was behind the failed coup in July.

Similarly, Devin Nunes, chairman of United States House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, said he has not seen any evidence showing Gülen’s involvement in the putsch in Turkey. (turkishminute.com)

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