The Gülenist Terror Group (FETÖ), which is accused of being behind the July 15 coup attempt, has tried to distance itself from the foiled putsch, but new evidence from investigations shows the extent of the group's involvement.
The evidence includes five civilians who were found with coup troops and were arrested for helping the Gülenist junta to shut down TV broadcasts in Istanbul. They were technicians and former employees of Samanyolu TV and Kaynak Holding, both of which have links to the Gülen Movement. Both organizations were taken over by government trustees during a previous investigation into the FETÖ, the name given by prosecutors to the Gülen Movement, which has been under investigation since two previous coup attempts in 2013.
The suspects boarded a helicopter that landed at a stadium in Istanbul along with coup troops. They were assigned to cut off broadcasts by the state broadcaster Turkish Radio and Television Corporation (TRT) and Digitürk, a satellite TV provider. Security camera footage from the stadium shows heavily-armed soldiers in uniform accompanied by five people dressed in civilian clothing. Police sources told Anadolu Agency (AA) that civilians boarded the helicopter in the Ümraniye district on Istanbul's Asian side after meeting with coup plotters at a house in the district. The troops then hijacked a bus to take them to the TRT and Digitürk headquarters. Security camera footage also shows the soldiers accompanying the five men to a helipad on the roof of a skyscraper in Ümraniye after the group broke into the building.
The coup attempt was foiled thanks to forces loyal to the government, police units and public resistance. TRT was retaken from the coup troops after unarmed citizens confronted the soldiers outside of the building in Istanbul's Ulus district and police intervened. Three suspects were seen in security camera footage jumping a fence near the building after coup plotters were inside the TRT building during an attempt to cut off live broadcasts. Police later captured the suspects and two others who went to the Digitürk building.
In other developments related to the role of Gülenists civilians in the coup attempt, a court in northwestern Turkey ordered the arrest of Davut Aydüz late Wednesday. Aydüz, a professor at Sakarya University, was among five arrested out of 16 suspects detained in operations against the FETÖ following the coup attempt. Aydüz is a theology lecturers and a well-known personality on talk-shows on the now-defunct TV stations affiliated with the Gülen Movement. He was a member of the Faculty of Theology at Sakarya University, as was Adil Öksüz. Öksüz is believed to be an imam or point man for Fethullah Gülen, who allegedly assigned him to relay his instructions to fellow Gülenists within the Air Force. Öksüz was detained after the foiled coup attempt at Akıncı Air Base in Ankara, which the coup plotters used as a headquarters. He was among three civilians found in and around the base after the coup attempt was quelled, but in a controversial verdict, was released by a local court only hours after his detention. He remains at large and is believed to have fled abroad while the prosecutors and judges who ordered his release are now under investigation.
Öksüz was not the only suspected Gülenist found at the air base. Hakan Çiçek, the owner of a private school in Ankara, was also detained near the base while trying to flee after the base was recaptured. Çiçek has claimed that he was invited to the base for "an event," but media has reported that together with Öksüz, he was an associate imam responsible for relaying Gülen's orders to putschist troops. A third civilian, Nurettin Oruç, was also detained near the base hours after the coup attempt. Oruç, a filmmaker, claimed he was visiting a village near the base in preparation to shoot a documentary, according to leaked excerpts of his testimony published in the Hürriyet daily. Like Oruç, Öksüz claimed in his initial testimony that he was visiting a village near the base to purchase a plot of land when he was captured before being brought to the base by troops before the coup attempt broke out.
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