Turkish police chief leading probe into top coup suspect arrested over alleged Gülen links

Adil Öksüz.

Ercan Özoğluöz, a Turkish police chief who was in charge of the effort to apprehend the number one suspect in a controversial coup attempt on July 15, 2016, was arrested on Friday along with another officer involved in the investigation, according to a report by pro-government private broadcaster aHaber TV.

Özoğluöz, who headed the anti-smuggling and organised crime team at the Sakarya Police Department and led the investigation into prime coup suspect Adil Öksüz, and Superintendant Muhittin Fidan, another member of the investigative team, were arrested over alleged links to the Gülen movement.

Öksüz, a theology professor at Sakarya University, has been declared the main suspect of the coup bid by the government. Öksüz was arrested outside an air base near Ankara on the morning after the coup attempt but was later freed by a judge, now also charged with alleged links to the Gülen movement, and has not been seen since. Recent reports in Turkey’s pro-government media have suggested that he has been kept in a safe house by German authorities.

According to the report by aHaber, Özoğluöz’s alleged connection to the Gülen movement was discovered last year following the discovery of a memory card with details about the movement. He was suspended from his job in April 2017 and was among 650 former police officers put under further investigation in April of this year.

Turkey survived a controversial military coup attempt on July 15, 2016 that killed 249 people. Immediately after the putsch, the Justice and Development Party (AKP) government along with President Recep Tayyip 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.

Turkey has suspended or dismissed more than 150,000 judges, teachers, police and civil servants since July 15. On December 13, 2017 the Justice Ministry announced that 169,013 people have been the subject of legal proceedings on coup charges since the failed coup.

Turkish Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu announced on April 18, 2018 that the Turkish government had jailed 77,081 people between July 15, 2016 and April 11, 2018 over alleged links to the Gülen movement.

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