FETÖ's engineers who helped pro-coup troops stand trial

Published 05.04.2017 21:23
Updated 05.04.2017 21:24

When pro-coup troops went to the headquarters of Türksat, Turkey's state-run satellite operator, during the July 15 putsch bid to cut off nationwide TV broadcasts, five civilians had accompanied them. These men turned out to be engineers from state-run science institutions who worked at the same TV station linked to the Gülenist Terror Group (FETÖ).

The five civilian suspects and 11 soldiers appeared before a court on Wednesday in capital Ankara, where the Türksat building is located. The group faces coup and terror charges in an emotionally charged hearing where victims who were injured or lost loved ones spoke about the coup night. The civil engineers, who worked as IT personnel, had been brought to the Türksat building in an attempt to cut off the broadcast on the night of the failed coup.

The trial in Ankara is among scores of trials against coup plotters linked to FETÖ, which is accused of masterminding the coup that left 248 people dead.

A Türksat manager and an employee of the company were killed by pro-coup troops when they opposed the takeover of the company headquarters as soldiers sought to end the broadcasts of all TV stations in the country.

All of the defendants face aggravated life prison terms for a wide range of crimes including the coup attempt itself, membership of a terrorist group and murder.

Pro-coup troops ultimately failed to take the channel off the air thanks to the complicated process of terminating the satellite broadcast and because of a public resistance.

The indictment against "civilian" suspects says Salih Mehmet Dağköy was an IT manager at the now-defunct Samanyolu TV, a mouthpiece for FETÖ. Birol Baki was also a former employee of Samanyolu and was owner of an electronics company. Burhan Güneş was a high-level employee of TÜBİTAK, a state-run science institution, while Uğur Özüdoğru worked as a computer engineer at a defense contractor and a state-run telecommunications body.

Özüdoğru has said in his testimony that he was contacted by now-fugitive FETÖ members before the coup and offered "a job with the military."

"They told me that the (pro-coup) soldiers had the approval of the United States and NATO and they would carry out a military intervention," he told the court.

Meanwhile, plaintiffs got the chance to speak in Wednesday's hearing. Yasemin Özsoy, wife of Ahmet Özsoy, a manager at Türksat who was killed when he confronted soldiers taking over the building, condemned the defendants and spoke about the coup night where she was at the personnel lodge for Türksat employees near the company headquarters.

Crying at times, Özsoy said she joined her neighbors who were convening in the lodge's courtyard when they heard that a coup attempt was taking place, adding that they prayed together for the putsch attempt to end.

Özsoy explained that she and the others narrowly avoided getting killed when a helicopter, piloted by pro-coup troops, opened fire on them.

Her son Abdullah Enes Özsoy also spoke at Wednesday's hearing.

"After the helicopter opened fire, we fled to our home. Then, (pro-coup) soldiers came and ordered us to leave. 'We are going to drop bombs everywhere, you must leave' they told us. So we left. Then, soldiers stopped us again. They told us the men should get out of the car. I thought they would execute us but they did not," he said.

The "civilians" arrested for the Türksat raid by FETÖ-linked coup troops are not the only non-military members of the terror cult. In Istanbul, security forces that were fighting the coup plotters would discover three men in plain clothes around the state broadcaster Turkish Radio and Television Corporation (TRT) building, which was one of the first targets of the Gülenist junta.

The detained men had jumped the fence outside TRT's Istanbul headquarters minutes before anti-coup security personnel and a crowd of anti-coup civilians retook the building from pro-coup forces as CCTV footage would later reveal.

Initially thought to be civilians fleeing for their lives amidst the brutal attempt to take over TRT, interrogators were surprised when they discovered the detainees' real identities.

Harun Şahin was the former manager of Sürat Teknoloji, a technology company that was shut down for its links to FETÖ and Niyazi Akalın, an engineer working at the same company. Seyfullah Genç was an engineer for Supercom, another technology company with direct links to the terror cult.

Security forces also arrested two other men in plain clothes, yet again, they turned out to be engineers working for a FETÖ-linked company outside Digitürk, a satellite TV provider. All five men would later confess that they were brought in by pro-coup troops to cut off broadcasts at TRT and Digitürk.

Further footage captured on security cameras showed the men exiting a helicopter after landing inside a football stadium in Istanbul. Following this, the men, in the company of heavily armed soldiers, had hijacked a bus and forced its driver, at gunpoint, to take them to the buildings of TRT and Digitürk.

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