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July 15 coup attempt mastermind Gülen approved plan to kill President Erdoğan, indictment says

DAILY SABAH
ISTANBUL
Published
Terrorist leader Fetullah Gülen in his 400-acre residence in Saylorsburg, Pennsylvania
Terrorist leader Fetullah Gülen in his 400-acre residence in Saylorsburg, Pennsylvania

Gülenist soldiers planned to capture and assassinate President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on the night of the July 15 coup bid and the plot was approved by the fugitive preacher Fetullah Gülen, an indictment by the Muğla Public Prosecutor's Office said on Wednesday.

The President was staying in Grand Yazıcı Hotel with his family in Muğla's Marmaris district. As the coup attempt broke out, he went to Istanbul, escaping the assassination attempt by 15 minutes. The putschist soldiers arrived at the hotel just minutes after Erdoğan left the hotel for Istanbul, clashing with security forces, leaving two police officers and a presidential guard dead.

The indictment also said that Gülenist troops met in a hotel in Ankara a week before the attempt to discuss the plot against the President.

According to the plan, the putschist soldiers would abduct Erdoğan from the Grand Yazıcı Hotel and take him to the Akıncı Air Base in Ankara, the headquarters of the coup soldiers.

Brigadier General Gökhan Şahin Sönmezateş, now in jail for involvement in the coup and assassination attempts, was ordered to head the plot by the Pennsylvania-based terrorist leader Gülen.

Sönmezateş was in command of 14 officers from the Special Forces Command, 12 soldiers from the Search and Rescue Team, two from Underwater Offence (SAT) commandos who went to Marmaris for the assassination plan.

Talking at the İzmir Çiğli Air Base before the plan took place, Sönmezateş had said: "A coup is being staged at this moment. We are following the orders of the General Staff. We take our orders from General Hulusi Akar. Bring Mr. President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan to Ankara; alive if possible, dead as a last resort. Die if you must but definitely take him to Ankara."

Sönmezateş confessed that he committed a major crime and tried to capture Erdoğan and take him to Ankara from Marmaris.

Regarding the assassination attempt, Erdoğan had said the plotters had tried to attack him in the resort town of Marmaris and had bombed locations where he had been just shortly after he left. He "escaped death by minutes," an official said.

In the operation to kill the president, around 25 soldiers in helicopters raided a hotel in Marmaris, coming down on ropes and shooting just after Erdoğan had left in an apparent attempt to seize him.

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