Zabit Kişi, who was one of the two Turkish nationals who were abducted from a plane in Kazakhstan in mid-September 2017, was formally arrested by a Turkish court in Kocaeli province on Monday over his alleged links to the Gülen movement.
According to a report by Turkey’s state-run Anadolu news agency (AA), Kişi who was kept under police custody for more than 5 months, was accused of helping high ranking military officers to flee from Turkey to abroad following to a controversial military coup attempt on July 15, 2016.
The report has said that Kişi, who was caught in Kazakhstan and deported to Turkey, has been tried as part of a coup case consists of 86 people including high ranking military officers who are accused of taking part in the coup attempt. The report said that Kişi is going to defend himself in a court hearing on April 2, 2018.
AA reported that Kişi, who left Turkey via Sabiha Gökçen Airpot in İstanbul on August 16, 2016, helped numbers of high ranking military officers to hide in İstanbul and Kocaeli provinces and assisted them to flee from the country. He was also reportedly used mobile phone messaging application ByLock. His wife and his brother were also accused of using ByLock.
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.
The AA report has also claimed that Enver Kılıç, who was abducted by Turkish security units in Kazakhstan together with Kişi, is still expected to be deported from the country to Turkey.
Turkish media had reported that Enver Kılıç and Zabit Kişi, the two Turkish nationals who were abducted from a plane in Kazakhstan in mid-September turn out to have been forcedly returned to Turkey and taken into custody in Turkey. The minutes of a court hearing in Kocaeli province showed that Kılıç and Kişi were brought back from Kazakhstan to Turkey, Aktif Haber had reported on November 9, 2017.
In a video recording on October 16, 2017, Birsen Kılıç said her husband disappeared while flying from Kazakhstan to Kyrgyzstan. Three days later, Kişi’s wife also showed up in a separate video recording and said her husband was abducted from a plane by a group of unknown people in the Kazak city of Almaty. People familiar with the incident said on social media that the two were kidnapped together over their alleged links to the Gülen movement.
Turkey’s autocratic President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has already called on foreign governments to punish the followers of the Gülen movement in their own countries. A small group of countries including Saudi Arabia, Malaysia, Georgia, Pakistan, Indonesia, Sudan and Myanmar have so far handed over academics, businessmen and school principals upon the Turkish government’s request even though some of those victims had refugee status with the UN. On some occasions, Turkish operatives were also involved in forced return of the alleged members of the Gülen movement.
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 Turkish autocratic President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan pinned the blame on the Gülen movement.
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. Turkey’s Interior Minister announced on December 12, 2017 that 55,665 people have been arrested. Previously, 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.
A total of 48,305 people were arrested by courts across Turkey in 2017 over their alleged links to the Gülen movement, said Turkish Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu on Dec. 2, 2018. “The number of detentions is nearly three times higher,” Soylu told a security meeting in İstanbul and claimed that “Even these figures are not enough to reveal the severity of the issue.”