A police officer, who helped save Turkish autocratic President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s life on the night of the coup as part of a three-person helicopter crew, has been arrested over his alleged links to the Gülen movement, which is accused by Erdoğan government of carrying out the coup, Hürriyet daily reported on Friday.
Tayyib Sina Doğan was fired from the police department on Nov. 22, 2016 over accusations that he had downloaded mobile phone messaging application ByLock and was sent to the notorious Sincan Prison in Ankara over the same allegations on Nov. 20, 2017.
“If I were a terror organisation member, I would not have allowed the helicopter the president boarded to take off,” he told Hürriyet. “I had the helicopter key. I knew the equipment. I was the first person to see the coup plotters’ helicopter before we took off and I informed the pilot.”
Doğan’s helicopter took Erdoğan from the seaside town of Marmaris, where he was allegedly being hunted by putschist soldiers, to nearby Dalaman Airport where his private plane was waiting.
He told the Ankara organised crime branch that he had not had an account at Bank Asya, which was closed by the government over its alleged affiliation with the Gülen movement, had not gone to a school operated by the followers of the Gülen movement, had not subscribed to a newspaper which was affiliated with the movement and, despite accusations, had not had the ByLock application on his phone.
“I did not download the programme,” he said. “I think that other programmes may have sent me (to the IP address associated with the programme).”
Turkish authorities believe that ByLock is a communication tool among the alleged followers of the Gülen movement. Tens of thousands of people, including civil servants, police officers, soldiers, businessmen and even housewives, have either been dismissed or arrested for using ByLock since the failed coup attempt on July 15, 2016.
Doğan was reportedly released on December 8, 2017.
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 Turkey’s autocratic 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, 2016. 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.